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TB Vaccine ( BCG ) Brisbane

October 15th, 2013

Yes we give BCG  vaccine in our clinic in the Brisbane CBD (click here for details about appointments.)

BCG is the vaccine used to protect against the disease Tuberculosis, also known as TB.

BCG vaccine is not part of the routine Australian vaccines. This is because Tuberculosis is (thankfully) very rare in this country.

However, in many parts of the world, TB is a very dangerous disease in young children and can be rapidly fatal.  In many countries, babies are given BCG at birth or soon after.  Australian babies who will be going to live in these countries, (generally for longer than 3 months), are recommended BCG vaccination.  The BCG vaccine may also be recommended to protect young children who will make multiple shorter trips to visit relatives, in these high TB-risk countries.

BCG vaccine works well in children under the age of 5 years to decrease the risk of death or major illness from TB. Sometimes a Mantoux test must be done 2 days before a BCG vaccine – this is usually if the child has already been to that country and might have already been exposed to TB.

In our clinic, we only give BCG to children under the age of 3. This is because we cannot physically hold older children still enough to give them the vaccine reliably.  Over the age of three, they are just too strong. We have tried. Sometimes even with 2 parents and 2 nurses holding the child, the child is still moving enough to cause problems with the administration. We do not blame the children of course because they are very scared and cannot understand what is happening and why. Furthermore, having many people restrain a child in such a way can be quite traumatic for the child, and for the parents and staff as well.  The BCG is not like regular vaccines. Regular vaccines are all given into the muscle.  BCG goes into the very top surface layers of the skin, and the child’s arm must be completely still for 5 seconds or the vaccine will either come out (necessitating multiple injections) or go too deeply meaning it will not work or cause more side effects.

After administration, the BCG vaccine takes 3 months to be effective so it needs to be given well before departure.

Adult travellers on short trips visiting high-risk TB countries need to be aware of  TB prevention strategies but usually don’t need vaccination. Very occasionally the TB vaccine will be recommended for travellers at particularly high risk e.g. if working in medical settings.

The only vaccine available for use in Australia is the vaccine made by AJ Vaccines Denmark (SSI) It is not formally registered for Australia. The registered Australian vaccine has been unavailable for many years. The SSI Denmark vaccine is however fully registered in New Zealand.  The SSI Denmark vaccine is used by public health clinics around Australia.

The TB vaccine is always given on the left arm. BCG is one of the few vaccines that can leave a scar. Since one TB vaccine is recommended in a lifetime, having the scar in a designated place makes it easier to determine if someone has been vaccinated.

Our clinic gives BCG vaccine click here for details about appointments.

Photos of TB vaccine progression

Immediately after TB vaccine; note white bubble on skin

Immediately after TB vaccine; note white bubble on skin

2 days after TB vaccine / BCG - note redness around area

2 days after TB vaccine/BCG – note redness around area

3 weeks after TB Vaccine/ BCG - note fluid ooze

3 weeks after TB vaccine/BCG – note fluid ooze

4 weeks after TB vaccine/BCG raised red lump with scaling skin on top

4 weeks after TB vaccine/BCG – note flaking skin

TB Vaccine/ BCG Scar at about 3 months

TB vaccine/ BCG scar at about 3+ months

More info on TB and the TB vaccine/BCG

Tuberculosis is second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer worldwide due to an infectious agent.

TB is a disease of poverty, affecting mostly young adults in their most productive years. The vast majority of TB deaths are in the developing world, with more than half in Asia.

Children are at much higher risk of progression to active disease than adults. This risk is greatest for infants and children under 2 years of age.

About 90% of persons infected with TB germs in their bodies are not sick. These persons are said to have latent TB.

The other 10% of infected persons will become sick with TB at some stage during their lifetime. Most persons who develop active TB, do so within the first two years after exposure. Persons who are sick with TB are said to have active TB.

Multidrug-resistant TB is a very dangerous form of TB that is spreading around the world and does not respond to standard treatment.

As outlined in an earlier blog entry there is some evidence that a BCG vaccine decreases the risk of developing melanoma, and may assist in the management of diabetes.

Key facts about TB from the World Health Organisation

Location details of the PA hospital chest clinic – ( when supplies are available, they provide free TB vaccine service for Brisbane and South East QLD)

Online Tuberculosis Control Centre in QLD – information from Govt

Media story about the closure of the TB clinic: Doctors have called to keep the chest clinic open

TB clinic closure sparks outrage Sept 2012

Our clinic gives BCG vaccine – see attached link for information about booking an appointment to discuss BCG.

5 Responses to “TB Vaccine ( BCG ) Brisbane”

  1. Sugandha says:

    My bub is 4 months old. We are planning to go my country in Bangladesh this year. We need Bcg vaccine for my Bub. Is Bcg vaccine still available in your clinic? Which brand u provide?

  2. Cha says:

    Hi Dr Deb, my 6 months old baby ( at the moment) will be traveling to Srilanka in April. Is BCG vaccine available at your clinic and how much will be the cost? What brand do you provide?
    Thank you

  3. Loke says:

    Hi Dr.Deb,

    We moved here from Malaysia and its a very common thing to give our child BCG at birth and also a booster at the age of 12 yo. My child has missed the booster shot because of our move here. Should my child get a booster?

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