Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine 

BCG vaccine and tuberculosis

The bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine is used mainly against tuberculosis (TB) diseases. TB is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis which primarily affects the lungs although it may sometimes affect other organs such as kidney, spine, and brain. TB is a potentially fatal disease; however, not everyone with TB will get sick. Individuals infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis can be classified into being afflicted with latent TB infection (LTBI) or TB disease.

TB is spread from one person to another through the air. TB bacteria is released into the air when a person infected speaks or coughs. Individuals that end up breathing in the released bacteria may become infected. The infection starts when the bacteria breathed in reaches the lungs and start to grow. From the lungs, it may migrate to other organs such as spine or kidneys; however, on the TB disease in the respiratory tract is infectious.

Individuals infected with TB may show symptoms of persistent coughing, chest pain and expelling blood or mucus when coughing. Other symptoms include fatigue, fever, poor appetite and chills. Individuals with latent TB infection do not show symptoms nor are they infectious.


People with weakened immune system (HIV, diabetes mellitus, organ transplant recipient) or close contact with recently infected individuals (health care providers, relatives of infected, immigrated from areas with prevalent TB infection) are at  a higher risk of becoming infected with TB themselves.


The BCG vaccine is used for preventing TB disease. It is currently not regularly given in Canada and US but is commonly given to infant and children in other countries where TB is much more prevalent. The vaccine is recommended to be given intradermally at the deltoid.

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