How the BCG vaccine works
BCG vaccine has a weakened form of the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB). The vaccine doesn't cause TB, but helps your baby develop immunity against the disease.
TB is a serious infectious disease that can lead to TB meningitis in babies. Most people in Northern Ireland recover fully after treatment. TB meningitis can be fatal or cause severe disability.
How TB is spread
You can only catch TB from someone coughing whose lungs or throat are already infected.
Symptoms of TB
TB can affect any part of the body. You should contact the doctor if you or your baby:
- have a cough that lasts longer than three weeks
- have a fever
- sweat especially at night
- have weight loss
- cough up blood
- Your local doctor (GP)
When the BCG vaccine is given
The vaccine is given to a baby if they're at risk of contact with someone who has TB. They could be at risk because:
- they live in an area with high rates of TB
- their parents or grandparents are from a country with high rates of TB
The vaccine is offered when your baby is newborn in hospital or after you bring your baby home.
How the vaccine is given
Your baby will get the BCG vaccination in the upper part of the left arm.
Asking for BCG vaccination
The vaccine is only offered to people at risk of tuberculosis infection. You or your child will be assessed to check you're eligible for vaccination.
For more information about the vaccine and tuberculosis, go to:
- BCG and your baby: protecting your baby against TB (Public Health Agency website)
- TB (Tuberculosis): the disease, its treatment and prevention (Public Health Agency website)