BCG Vaccine

A BCG vaccine is given to prevent tuberculosis (TB) infection. The vaccine contains bacteria called BCG (bacille Calmette-Guérin) that is closely related to the bacteria that cause TB.

The BCG vaccine is often given to people in countries where TB is common, such as South America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Russia. But it is seldom used in North America because:

  • TB is not a widespread problem in North America.
  • The effectiveness of the vaccine varies. It is most effective at preventing TB from spreading outside of the lungs (extrapulmonary TB) in children.
  • The vaccine interferes with TB skin test results. People who get a BCG vaccination are likely to have TB skin test results that show they have a TB infection even when they aren't infected.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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