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BCG Tuberculosis (TB) vaccinations for travel

To avoid Tuberculosis (TB) from ruining your travel plans, you will want to have both comprehensive medical coverage and the BCG vaccine if you are travelling to an area where the virus is active. The vaccine is usually given to babies and children, as the vaccination is not effective in adults. In the UK, the vaccination is not part of the routine childhood schedule of vaccinations, but it is provided to those with a higher risk of contracting TB.

What is the BCG vaccination?

BCG stands for Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, and it is the vaccine used to prevent TB from incubating in the body. It is most effective for those who are under 16 years old but can provide some protection in those up to 35 years of age. It is a vaccination prescribed only to those who will be spending time in highly infected areas.

Do you need BCG vaccination for travel?

You won’t need the BCG vaccination for travel in most areas unless you are working closely with infected individuals or are living in an area with a high population of TB infected people.

What is Tuberculosis?

TB is a highly infectious disease that can be spread from person to person through bodily fluids (most often by being too close when someone infected with TB coughs). It causes nodules (tubercles) to grow, particularly in your lungs, causing a hole to form and infection to spread. Nowadays, TB can be cured if the patient finishes the entire treatment regimen to its entirety, and not just until they feel better.

What are the early signs of Tuberculosis?

TB is a very slow disease that can take a long time to show symptoms. First symptoms of this disease include:

  • A persistent and wracking cough
  • Increased breathlessness
  • Lack of appetite or weight loss
  • Fever
  • Extreme tiredness or difficulty sleeping

If contracted, TB can be cured through a regimen of antibiotic medication.

What are the side effects of the BCG injection?

Outside of regular injection-site symptoms caused by the vaccination dose, symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Painful or bloody urine
  • Stomach pains or vomiting
  • Skin rashes
  • Breathing problems

If you experience any of these extra symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.