Tip 108: BCG

The BCG vaccine is a live attenuated strain derived from Mycobacterium bovis.

The neonatal UK vaccination programme is risk based. BCG is offered to:

  • all infants living in areas of the UK where annual incidence of TB is 40/100,000 or greater;
  • all infants where one or more parent or grandparent was born in a country where the annual incidence of TB is 40/100,000 or greater.

Analysis shows the vaccine to be 70 to 80% effective against the most severe forms of the disease, including TB meningitis in children.

There is currently a nationwide shortage of BCG but an unlicensed version, supported by Public Health England, should be available soon.

References: NHS public health functions agreement 2015-16, Neonatal BCG immunisation programme, Service specification No. 2. NHS England, 2014.

Public Health England. Vaccine Update; issue 247, June 2016. PHE Publications Gateway Number: 2016108.

Previously published: 15/05/14, 04/05/15

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