BCG Vaccine: What You Need To Know

Bacillus Cameline Guerin, more commonly known as BCG, is the vaccine used to prevent tuberculosis or TB. The bacteria responsible for TB, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, mainly affects the lungs. The Vaccine works like any other vaccination, injecting a weakened bunch of bacteria into your body to help build immunity against it in the future.

Tuberculosis is a highly contagious disease, as it’s medium of propagation is the air. It mainly spreads when people cough and the germs become airborne and enter another body. However, some people have latent TB, where the bacteria are present in the body but in dormant form, making it less contagious.

Effects of TB

The first symptoms to look for are unexplained weight loss, chronic cough and fever, possibly bloody coughs, and night sweats. If TB is left untreated for an extended period, it could be fatal. Apart from the lungs, TB can also occur in the abdomen, spinal cord or other parts of the body.

The vaccine usually causes blisters at the point of injection and may result in a slight fever as well.

Who should get vaccinated?

The vaccine is given to children mostly above the age of 16, as well as adults under the age of 35. It is best to get the vaccine if you are living in an environment where the disease is widespread, or are traveling into an area hosting TB. Those who are infected with HIV or any other ailment that weakens the immunity system should also get the vaccine.

Mantoux test

The Mantoux test is another name for the skin test that is conducted before injecting the BCG vaccine. This test is only to check whether you are already a victim of TB and have an active TB infection in your body. It tests your skin’s reaction to a substance called Tuberculin Purified Protein Derivative (PPD). If the reaction rate is high, you would be exempt from the vaccine as it would be fruitless. It indicates that the bacteria has probably already entered your body and the vaccine would then have no impact except for unpleasant side effects

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