The BCG vaccine contains a weakened strain of TB bacteria, which builds up immunity and encourages the body to fight TB if infected with it, without causing TB itself.
BCG vaccination given to babies and young children provides consistent protection (up to 80%) against severe forms of childhood TB, such as TB meningitis. It can be less effective against TB affecting the lungs in adults.
How common is TB in the UK?
Rates of TB are higher in some communities of people who were not born in the UK. This is largely because of their connections to areas of the world where rates of TB are high. Vaccination UK are commissioned by NHS England to provide the infant BCG programme in Newham and Tower Hamlets.
All babies born in Newham are eligible for the BCG vaccine, and some babies born in Tower Hamlets are eligible. This will depend on where their parents or grandparents were born. Please speak to your GP, Midwife or Health Visitor to see if your baby is eligible for the vaccine.
Is TB contagious?
Yes. TB is spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air when a person with TB coughs or sneezes and somebody else breathes in these droplets.
But TB is not as easy to catch as measles, the common cold or flu. You usually need to spend a long time in close contact with an infected person (with TB in their lungs or throat) before you catch TB.
For example, TB is usually caught from family members or friends who are living in the same house.
TB cannot be spread through touch or sharing cutlery, bedding or clothes.
How do I know if my baby needs the BCG vaccination?
Your midwife, health visitor, practice nurse or GP can tell you if a BCG vaccination is recommended for your baby.
The NHS leaflet: TB, BCG and your baby (PDF, 191kb) has more information.
FInd the NHS UK BCG vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) FAQs here:
For information about the vaccines we provide, click on a link below:
DTP & Meningitis ACWY
Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio teenage booster vaccine
Protection (up to 80%) against severe forms of childhood TB, such as TB meningitis
The HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination protects against cervical cancer
The nasal spray works even better than the injected flu vaccine with fewer side effects