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Bacillus Calmette-Guérin Vaccine (BCG) / TB vaccine

The BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin) vaccine protects against tuberculosis, which is also known as TB.

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The BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin) vaccine protects against tuberculosis, which is also known as TB.

TB is a serious infection that affects the lungs and sometimes other parts of the body, such as the brain, bones, joints and kidneys.

The BCG vaccination is particularly effective in protecting babies and young children against the more rare severe forms of TB such as TB meningitis (swelling of the lining of the brain).

In young people and adults it usually affects the lungs, but can also affect the lymph glands, brain, joints, kidneys and bones.

Most people in the UK recover fully after treatment, but this usually takes several months.

More information about TB is available from NHS 111 Wales - Tuberculosis (TB)(external site)


Eligibility for the vaccine

Since 2005 the BCG vaccine is no longer given as part of the routine NHS vaccination schedule.

The BCG vaccine is now only offered to babies up to 1 year old and unvaccinated children aged one to five years who are more likely to spend time with someone with TB. This includes those who:

  • are born in areas of the UK where TB rates are high
  • have a parent or grandparent who was born in a country where there's a high rate of TB including countries in South-East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and some countries in Eastern Europe
  • live with, or are close contacts of, someone with infectious TB

Read more about who can have a BCG vaccine (external site).


About the BCG vaccine

The vaccine used in the UK is BCG AJV.

Only one dose of the BCG Vaccine is required.

If the BCG vaccine is recommended for your baby, it will usually be offered shortly after birth in hospital it can be given at any time.

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent severe illness from TB. No vaccine is 100% effective, so it is still important to know the signs and symptoms of TB, even if you or your child are vaccinated.  

For more information about TB visit:  

Tuberculosis - (external site) 

NHS 111 Wales - Health A-Z : Tuberculosis (TB) (external site) 

Side effects of the BCG vaccine

Virtually everyone who has a BCG vaccination will develop a raised blister at the site of the injection immediately afterwards. This is normal and shows the injection has been given properly.

Within two to six weeks of the injection a small spot will appear. This may be quite sore for a few days, but it should gradually heal if you don’t cover it. It may leave a small scar. This is normal. Occasionally, your child may develop a shallow sore where they had the injection. If this is weeping fluid and needs to be covered, use a dry dressing – never a plaster – until a scab forms. This sore may take as long as several months to heal.

Other reactions are rare. For more information on common, uncommon and rare side effects, see:

If you are concerned about symptoms call NHS 111 Wales (external site). Calls to NHS 111 Wales are free from landlines and mobile phones.

You can report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme. You can do this online at or by calling the Yellow Card scheme hotline on 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).  


Information for the public

If you would like to learn more about the vaccine or the diseases it protects against, a number of information resources are available to help. You can also call NHS 111 or your GP practice for advice if you have any questions.

TB Alert - for a future without tuberculosis has more information about TB.