The TB vaccine protects infants and young children from serious forms of TB disease.
The BCG (which stands for Bacillus Calmette-Guérin) vaccine contains live, weakened Bacillus Calmette-Guérin -bacteria. The vaccine does not protect against infection but prevents serious illness. Infants and small children are susceptible to TB disease. The BCG-vaccine is intended to protect infants and young children against severe forms of TB disease such as tuberculous meningitis and generalized TB.
The protective efficacy of the vaccine against TB disease of the lungs has varied in different studies. Protection decreases over time, but partial protection may last for decades.
Previously, the BCG-vaccine was given to all children in Finland. Since 2006, the BCG vaccine is only given to children who are considered to be at increased risk of TB infection and disease. Vaccinations are no longer given to all children due to the decrease of TB cases in Finland.
The vaccine is usually given to newborns. Children over 7 years of age are not vaccinated. The need for vaccination is determined by a doctor. The TB vaccination is given free of charge.
The BCG vaccination is recommended for children:
- who live with a family member or other person who once has had TB disease
- who were born in a country where TB is common or live with a family member or person who was born in a country where TB is common
- who is within a year moving to a country where TB is common and will stay there over one month
The BCG vaccination is also recommended if the child has regular and close contact with a person:
- who comes from a country where TB is common
- who has TB disease
- who is otherwise considered at risk for TB disease
The BCG vaccination received in childhood does not protect the person in adulthood.
Read more about BCG vaccination on the website of the National Institute for Health and Welfare.
Newer, safer and better TB vaccines are being developed worldwide.