Vaccine Information Leaflet
Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccines help to prevent tuberculosis (TB), especially in areas where the disease is endemic (widespread). The BCG vaccine is highly effective in preventing serious forms of childhood TB, such as TB meningitis (inflammation of the covering around the brain or spinal cord) and disseminated TB (spread of TB infection from the lungs to multiple organs).
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria known as
Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is spread from one person to another through droplets released into the air, such as by coughing or sneezing.
Common symptoms of TB include cough lasting three weeks or longer, coughing out blood, feeling tired, fever, night sweats and unexplained or unintentional weight loss.
The BCG vaccine is routinely given in Singapore to newborns soon after birth, as recommended under the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS).
It may also be considered for adults who have not been previously infected or are unvaccinated, but are at a higher risk of contracting TB. These include those with risk of exposure from work, such as healthcare/long-term care facilities personnel, prison personnel or workers exposed to cattle or monkeys. Mantoux testing (a test to check if one is infected with TB) is recommended before vaccination to confirm lack of current or previous TB infection.
Inform your healthcare professional if:
You/your child are allergic to this vaccine or any of the other ingredients of this vaccine
You are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding
You/your child are taking any other medications
You/your child have a weak immune system due to an illness such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection or cancer
You/your child are currently on treatment which weakens your/their immune system such as medications (e.g. steroids) or radiation therapy to the bone marrow
You/your child are currently not feeling well and having a fever
You/your child have a skin infection that affects the whole body
You/your child have recently received any other vaccines
It is given by injection into the skin.
One dose is given to newborns soon after birth as part of the NCIS. The vaccination is usually offered while your baby is still in hospital.
If your baby was unable to receive the BCG vaccination while still in the hospital, BCG vaccination is offered as one dose for children up to 5 years of age (i.e. <6 years). Children aged 6 months or older are required to undergo Mantoux testing before vaccination.
It is also administered as one dose for adults who are not previously infected or are unvaccinated, but are at a higher risk of contracting TB.
Pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
You may place a cold compress over the affected area for relief
You may give paracetamol for pain relief
A small lump appears at the injection site followed by an ulcer, which may ooze with pus, before healing on its own (usually by 3 months) to a superficial scar
Keep the area clean and dry
A light sterile gauze dressing (changed daily) may be applied if there is a lot of pus
You may give paracetamol
If fever persists, see doctor for medical advice
Some may feel faint after the vaccination
Sit for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine to avoid fainting
You may take paracetamol for pain relief
Headache and fever
You may take paracetamol to treat the headache or fever
Please see a doctor if these side effects do not get better or become worse.
The symptoms of a drug allergy include one or more of the following:
Difficulty in breathing
Itchy skin rashes over your whole body
Rarely, infection or swelling of lymph nodes with/without pus at the armpit (same side injection was given) may occur.
If you/your child experience any of these symptoms, you should inform your healthcare professional immediately.
The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.
This article is jointly developed by members of the National Medication Information workgroup. The workgroup consists of cluster partners (National Healthcare Group, National University Health System and SingHealth), community pharmacies (Guardian, Unity and Watsons) and Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore. The content does not reflect drug availability and supply information in pharmacies and healthcare institutions. You are advised to check with the respective institutions for such information.
Last updated in Jul 2022
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This article was last reviewed on
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
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