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Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine

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Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine - What is it for

​Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccines help to prevent tuberculosis (TB), especially in areas where the disease is endemic (widespread). It can also be used for other therapeutic or medical purposes.

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is spread from one person to another through droplets released into the air, through coughing or sneezing.

Common symptoms of TB include cough lasting three weeks or longer, coughing out blood, feeling tired, fever, night sweats and unexplained or unintentional weight loss.

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine - Side Effects, Precautions, and Contraindications

What side effects can Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine cause?

Common side effects include: 

● Some people may feel faint after the vaccination
   o Sit for 15 minutes to avoid fainting

● Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
   o You may place a cold compress over the affected area for relief
   o You may take paracetamol for pain relief
   o Small, red lesions usually appear then slowly decrease in size and eventually disappear after six months
   o Some people may have a slight superficial scar

● Headache and fever
   o You may take paracetamol to treat the headache or fever
   o For newborns, see doctor for medical advice if fever persists

 Please see a doctor if these side effects do not get better or become worse.

Rare but serious side effects include:

Rarely, infection or swelling of lymph nodes with/without pus formation at the armpit (same side injection was given) may occur.

The symptoms of a drug allergy include one or more of the following:
● Swollen face/eyes/lips/tongue
● Difficulty in breathing
● Itchy skin rashes over your whole body

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should inform your healthcare professional immediately.

Before taking Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine, what precautions must I follow?

​Inform your healthcare professional if:
● You are allergic to this vaccine or any of the other ingredients of this vaccine
● You are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding
● You are taking any other medications
● You have a weak immune system due to an illness such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection or cancer
● You are currently on treatment which weakens your immune system such as medications (e.g. steroids) or radiation therapy to the bone marrow
● You are currently not feeling well and having a fever
● You have a skin infection that affects the whole body
● You have recently received any other vaccines

What food or medicine must I avoid when I take Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine?

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine - Dosage and How to Use

How should Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine be used?

​​It is given by injection into the skin.

One dose is given to newborns soon after birth as part of the NCIS. The vaccination is usually offered while your baby is still in hospital.

It is also administered as one dose for those who are not previously infected or are unvaccinated, but are at a higher risk of contracting TB.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

What should I do if I overdose?

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine - Handling

How should I handle Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine safely?

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine - Storage

How should I store Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine?

How should I dispose of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine safely?

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine - Additional Information

  • Updated on Monday, May 31, 2021
  • Article contributed by PSS National Medication Information Workgroup PSS National Medication Information Workgroup

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