The BCG vaccine contains a weak form of the disease
The BCG Vaccine (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin Vaccine) protects an individual against Tuberculosis. Since vaccination began in 1953 in the UK recommendations for vaccination have changed over time. Routine school vaccination for teenagers stopped in 2005. The UK vaccination programme is now “risk based”.
Currently in the UK vaccination is only given on the NHS to babies, children and adults under the age of 35 living in high risk areas of the country (including London).
- The vaccine contains a weak form of the disease
- The vaccine is a live vaccine
- The vaccine does not contain Thiomersal
- There are no preservatives in the vaccine
For those travelling overseas the BCG vaccine is only given, if required, following a full risk assessment and tuberculin sensitivity test. Travellers under the age of 16 years living and working in a high risk area for more than three months would be considered for vaccination.
If you are travelling overseas it is important to have a full risk assessment to determine if the BCG vaccine is required. A private travel clinic will be able to determine your risk and provide advice to help you determine if you need to have the vaccine.
Resources and information for Tuberculosis and BCG Vaccination
- NHS Immunisation Information Service about Tuberculosis (TB)
- World Health Organisation estimates of Tuberculosis rates around the world. This data is used to determine risk when travelling to different areas of the world.
- The Department of Health Green Book On-line provides a full detailed explanation of Tuberculosis, mantoux test and the BCG vaccination.
Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional. Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.