BCG Vaccine

BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guérin) is a vaccine given to babies to protect them from serious forms of Tuberculosis (TB) such as TB Meningitis (an infection of the brain) and Miliary TB (wide spread infection).

Who should receive a BCG vaccine?

Infants under two years of age who are at risk for TB such as:

  • those from northern communities where there are high rates of TB; and
  • infants from families or communities with a history or risk of exposure to TB.

BCG vaccine is not required for those who already have a positive skin test.

Side effects of the BCG Vaccine

Normally, once the BCG is given (upper right arm), a small pimple appears in 1-3 weeks and lasts up to 6-8 weeks.  A small scar will remain when the vaccination heals.

However, some possible side effects that may occur include:

  • A drainage or a small scab over the site.  If the injection site is draining, put a dry gauze dressing on the area and allow it to dry and prevent the baby from scratching the area.  There is no need to put a band-aid, cream or ointment on the site.  It will normally resolve itself, usually within one to three months.
  • On rare occasions, an abscess (painful swelling that contains pus), forms at the injection site and/or lymph glands in the armpit or neck can get larger.  If this happens let your nurse know.

The following link provides more information on the BCG vaccine:

  • BCG (Public Health Agency of Canada)