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The BCG vaccine

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The Bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccine or the BCG vaccine, as it is more commonly known, serves to immunise against Tuberculosis (TB), a bacterial infection of the predominantly the lungs. TB can also affect the nervous system and bones. Although highly dangerous, TB need not be fatal due to the intervention of modern medicine.

What is the purpose of the BCG vaccine?

The vaccine contains a minimal amount of the same bacterium that infects cattle with TB. This may seem a little strange, yet the bacterium has been changed to ensure those who receive the vaccination do not contract TB but become immune to it.

I thought TB didn’t exist in developed countries?

Although rare in the UK, there have been recent instances of people contracting TB. To be specifically, statistics show that in 2011, 40% of cases of TB in the UK can be attributed to London. Supporting research suggests that this could be due to TB being more prominent in persons from less developed countries and in fact, 75% of the instances of TB in this year were people who were born outside the United Kingdom.

Who needs it?

This particular vaccine is not recommended for babies as standard as it is usually only necessary for those who are likely to come in contact with TB. This can include those health professionals, children and young adults living in squalid and unhygienic conditions and some farmers. The good news is that although contagious, it is only a concern for those who are in contact with the infection for considerable periods of time. TB is spread in much the same way the common cold and flu, through inhalation of the residue from an infected persons coughs and sneezes. As frightening as TB sounds, it is not as contagious as many other respiratory conditions.

bcg vaccine

 Does my baby/child need to be vaccinated?

The NHS will only recommend TB vaccinations to those that they consider to be at a high risk of infection. This could be people from other countries who have lived in unhygienic conditions and now live in the UK, or those who currently live in areas considered to be high risk. If your child has been in contact with someone who has already contracted TB, then seek medical advice as to whether they should receive the vaccine. You will be informed if your new born baby needs the BCG vaccine by the midwife, nurse or other health professional, and you should not worry unnecessarily when it is not offered.

If you are travelling to countries that are known to have higher rates of TB infections, you should talk to your GP about potential any health risks and precautions you can take. Asia and Saharan Africa are considered to possess high rates of TB amongst their communities.

The BCG vaccination is highly effective against severe cases of TB, yet is considered completely redundant to those over the age of 45.

Anything Else I Should Know?

Those with religious or certain ethical beliefs may be relieved to know that the BCG vaccination does not contain any ingredients of animal origin. There are also no elements derived from human or animal blood.

The vaccine is suitable for allergy sufferers, including those allergic to eggs, dairy, nuts, penicillin or latex. As with all vaccines, consult your GP should you require any further information.






About Denise Morgan

About Denise Morgan

Denise has five years' experience writing for various web-based companies. During this time she has also contributed to magazine articles and brochures. In addition to writing, Denise is a gigging singer/songwriter and is proud to have featured on the first series of BBC One's The Voice UK, having been selected by the great Sir Tom Jones. Denise is mother to the most talented and ridiculously intelligent two year old that has ever been and ever will be (until she creates another one that is). This kind of hyperbole is restricted only to her progeny and is not a reflection of her usual writing styles... Denise and her son live in Manchester along with their five cats - yes that's right, five.

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