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Photo of TB specialist with infant before BCG vaccination

Safe Travels Clinic
BCG Tuberculosis (TB
Sydney NSW

Safe Travels Clinic

BCG vaccination / Tuberculosis (TB) vaccine

BCG Vaccine

BCG is the vaccine for Tuberculosis (TB) and has been used in the fight against TB for over 100 years. To date, the TB vaccine remains as the most widely used vaccine worldwide and has been given to more than 4 billion individuals with astonishing safety records.

Why is the BCG vaccine important?

The BCG vaccine is very effective for infants and children in protecting against the severe forms of TB. Furthermore, research has shown that BCG vaccination helps protect adults and children against non-TB mycobacterium, including leprosy, as well as upper and lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and influenza.

The effects of TB

TB is caused by the bacterium mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB not only affects the lungs, but can also affect the brain, spine and cause widespread (disseminated) TB disease, particularly in infants and children. It can cause serious illness and death if left untreated.

When will the BCG vaccine take effect?

BCG immunisation takes 4-8 weeks to build an immune response and it can take up to 3 months to take full effect. Therefore, BCG vaccination should be scheduled soon after your travel plans have been confirmed.

Photo of TB specialist holding BCG vaccine vial

BCG Vaccine Research

Does BCG vaccination work to stop Tuberculosis (TB)? Emerging research shows BCG immunisation provides protection not only against TB, but even other non-TB infections. The BCG vaccine helps to protect not only TB disease (active TB), but also TB infection (latent TB). BCG vaccination is worthwhile, as it ensures greater protection against TB, the world's number one infectious disease.

See below to view research articles about the BCG vaccine.

  • Is BCG a vaccine against Tuberculosis (TB)?
    Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by TB bacteria spreading through the air from person to person. TB mostly affects the lungs but can affect any organ, such as the spine and the brain / central nervous system. The vaccine against TB is called the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine. The BCG vaccine is given by injection just under the skin on the upper arm. BCG vaccination gives good immunity against TB disease (active TB) and even provides some protection against TB infection (latent TB). In addition, the BCG immunisation provides protection even against some non-TB infections.
  • How effective is the BCG vaccine?
    BCG vaccination is more effective in infants and children than adults. BCG immunisation provides approximately 80% protection against severe forms of TB in young children (TB of the brain and central nervous system). The BCG vaccine may take up to 3 months to take full effect, therefore It should ideally be given at least 3 months before travelling to a country where TB is common.​
  • Is BCG a live vaccine?
    Since the BCG vaccine is a live vaccine, BCG vaccination is not recommended for someone who has a latent TB infection, low immunity, or a current illness with fever. People who need more than one live (injected) vaccine should either: have all their live vaccines injected on the same day of their appointment, or allow at least 4 weeks between other live-injected vaccines.
  • Is the BCG vaccine safe?
    The BCG vaccine is one of the world's oldest and most widely used vaccine, which has shown to be very safe, with generally mild side effects. A pre-BCG vaccination assessment is required to ensure it is safe for the vaccine recipient, which is undertaken each time at Safe Travels Clinic to ensure utmost safety. A TB test (TST or IGRA) is needed prior to giving the TB vaccination if the vaccine recipient has been in close contact with a person with TB of the lung and has not completed TB screening. A local wound site usually develops where the injection was given, which forms into a scar over a period of up to 4 months.
  • Are there any side effects ​with the BCG vaccine?
    The BCG vaccine is safe, with generally mild side effects. Occasional side effects include: Fast or accelerated BCG vaccination sore development. Painful, red and swollen BCG vaccination sore. Swelling of the glands in the armpits or neck. Excessive growth of scar tissue at the injection site, known as keloid scarring.
  • What happens after the BCG vaccination?
    After BCG vaccination, a sore will likely develop at the injection site, which usually occurs over several weeks to months. This sore generally leads to scab formation and eventually results in the presence of a scar. If the sore forms, heals and scars very rapidly (within 2-3 weeks), it may be a fast/accelerated reaction. In this event, contact for further discussion. ​ Some people may respond slowly to the BCG vaccine. In rare cases, there may not be a response to the vaccine and there may not be scar formation at the site of BCG injection. If there is no response to the vaccine, re-vaccination is not recommended, as the result will likely be the same. In most cases, a scar forms 2-4 months after BCG vaccination. The presence or absence of a scar does not indicate efficacy, but usually occurs in most cases to varying degrees.
  • How to look after the BCG vaccination sore?
    Keep the area clean and dry. Keep the area uncovered where possible. Do not cover the sore with dressings or band-aids. Do not apply creams, lotions or ointments at the location of the sore. If the sore oozes a lot, it can be covered with a piece of loose, sterile cloth (e.g. gauze) that is taped down at the edges but still allows air. Normal activities such as baths, showers, swimming, and sports can be continued as usual.
  • Where is Safe Travels Clinic located?
    Safe Travels Clinic is located at 71-73 Marion Street, Harris Park, NSW 2150 (within Priority Medical Centre Harris Park).
  • What is the price/fee for BCG vaccination?
    The current fee is $150, which is paid with card or cash on the day of the appointment.
  • How can I book an appointment for BCG vaccination?
    An appointment can be made online through our website or over the phone by calling 0402 170 053 or 0467 981 322.
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