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HealthInfo Canterbury

BCG (TB) vaccination

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The BCG vaccination is used to help prevent people getting tuberculosis (TB).

TB is not common in New Zealand so BCG vaccinations are not routinely given. The Ministry of Health recommends that children under 5 who have a higher risk of catching TB should get the BCG vaccine. The BCG vaccine is free for those children.

Children have a higher risk of catching TB if they:

Countries with high rates of TB include:

The best time for the vaccination is within a few days of birth. Your child can be vaccinated any time if they are under 5. But if they are older than 6 months, they need to be tested before being vaccinated. The test is called the Mantoux test. It tests if your child has been exposed to TB.

Your midwife or GP should tell you if your child should be vaccinated. Talk to one of them if you think your child has a higher risk of catching TB.

Worldwide shortage of BCG vaccine

There is currently a worldwide shortage of the BCG vaccine. Until further notice, BCG vaccinations are not available in New Zealand. If you think your child has a higher risk of catching TB, you should still talk to your midwife or GP.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Updated January 2017.

Page reference: 231290

Review key: HIBCG-231290