International travel and health

Tuberculosis

Vaccine

All versions of the BCG vaccine are based on live, attenuated mycobacterial strains descended from the original, attenuated bacillus Calmette-Guérin. The vaccine is administered intradermally and can be given simultaneously with other childhood vaccines. BCG vaccine is contraindicated for individuals with severely impaired immunity and individuals with HIV infection.

BCG vaccine is of very limited use for travellers. In the first year of life it provides good protection against severe forms of TB (miliary TB and meningitis). In countries with high TB prevalence, infants are generally immunized with a single dose of BCG as soon after birth as possible. Children who are known to be HIV-infected, even if asymptomatic, should not be immunized with BCG vaccine. Other protective benefits of the vaccine are uncertain. One dose of BCG should be considered for unvaccinated infants travelling from an area of low incidence to one of high incidence.

Many industrialized countries with a low incidence of TB have ceased giving BCG routinely to neonates.

Booster doses of BCG are not recommended by WHO.

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