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BCG vaccine and its use

Apr 05, 2017

BCG vaccine and its use

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease caused by bacteria named Mycobacterium tuberculosis which affects the lungs, kidneys, joints etc. and might even lead to death. The cheapest and most reliable vaccination that aids in protection from TB is the BCG vaccine named after its inventors, Calmette and Guerin. The BCG vaccine which stands for Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, is a live bacterial vaccination constituted by a bacteria named Mycobacterium bovis which fights the TB causing bacteria. However, the BCG vaccine has been found to be more effective in children and therefore, mostly, children are administered with this vaccine. It should also be taken into account that owing to its efficacy in being used against TB, administering this vaccine to all the children has been a part of government schemes in places like India, South East Asian countries, Africa etc. where the rate of morbidity in case of TB is high. However, in places like UK and USA where the people are less likely to develop TB, not all but only the children expected to suffer from TB are administered with the vaccine. BCG vaccines are given to children up to 5 years of age.

Few side effects related to BCG are fever, swollen lymph nodes, stomach problems, blood in urination, nausea, vomiting, skin sore etc. These are usually expected to go away in a while but if signs like severe skin rash, wheezing and difficulty in swallowing and breathing persists, a doctor must be consulted with immediately. In spite of its efficacy, people are sceptical about BCG because in the year 1930, out of 252 infants who were administered with the vaccine in the city of Lubeck, 72 of them developed TB and died. Reason for this has been stated as contamination of the vaccines during laboratory procedures. However, during the Second World War, successful use of the vaccine against TB helped in restoring the lost faith and it re-gained its popularity. Even today, though many vaccinations are going through clinical trials to combat TB, BCG is still considered the best.

Disclaimer: The information given in this write-up is purely for educating the reader. It is not meant to be a substitute for any advice from a medical expert.

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