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What is BCG vaccination?

Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine contains a live bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). The bacterium after a special treatment stimulates the immune system to resist TB without actually causing the disease.

History of the TB vaccination
In 1921, two French scientists Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin created the unique until nowadays TB vaccine, called BCG. The vaccine is named after these two doctors: Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, BCG. The scientists had to work hard to create it. They were faced with two challenges:
  • to keep the vaccine alive; and
  • to weaken bacteria to the extent when it is no longer harmful to the body.

Since 1923 BCG vaccine has been used for vaccination of infants in France and later in other European countries.

In 1925, L.A. Tarasevich and A. Calmette had obtained BCG strain in Paris. It was produced in USSR and is still produced in Russia.

The purpose of vaccination: to protect against serious and widespread TB forms.
TB vaccination cannot protect against TB infection. Currently, the TB epidemic is registered in Ukraine, and anyone can become infected. TB is of high threat to young children. After the vaccination, a child’s body develops sufficiently strong immunity to prevent the disease development after the infection.

Unfortunately, if the child is not vaccinated against TB, he/she has a high risk of developing severe TB forms, which can lead to disability and even death.

The doctor recommends parents to provide the appropriate vaccination/re-vaccination, and the final related decision is taken by the child's parents. They shall determine whether their children are duly protected from TB.

What vaccines are used in Ukraine for TB vaccination?

There are two types of vaccine: BCG and BCG-M. BCG vaccine is used for vaccination of healthy infants, whose weight does not exceed 2,000 grams. BCG-M is used for babies with weight less than 2,000 grams and who have contraindications for BCG vaccination.

More effective is the BCG vaccine.

Who is vaccinated against TB in Ukraine?

In Ukraine babies are to be vaccinated at birth within the first 3-7 days and then re-vaccinated at 7 years old (provided they have negative Mantoux/PPD test). At older age, the Mantoux test is performed determining the probability of getting TB. If the sample is negative, on the third day (but no later than 2 weeks) after the test the BCG vaccination is performed.

At the vaccination site a small reaction is developed: a minor inflammatory bump. A child is allowed to bathe. The inflammation disappears within several months, and only a small scar remains on the skin. This reaction process shall be supervised by the local pediatrician during each visit of a child.