Vaccine, BCG in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Risk Factor: CM
Class: Serums, toxoids, and vaccines / Vaccines

Contents of this page:
Fetal Risk Summary
Breast Feeding Summary
Questions and Answers

Fetal Risk Summary

BCG vaccine is a live, attenuated bacteria vaccine used to provide immunity to tuberculosis (1,2). Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with the vaccine.

The risk to the fetus from maternal vaccination is unknown. Because it is a live preparation, one reviewer thought the vaccine should probably not be used during pregnancy (2). A more recent publication cited the recommendation of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP) that BCG vaccine should only be used if there is an immediate, excessive risk of unavoidable exposure to infectious tuberculosis (2). Although not specifically listing BCG vaccine, the ACIP recommendation parallels the opinion expressed in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Technical Bulletin No. 160 (3).

Breast Feeding Summary

No data are available.


  1. American Hospital Formulary Service. Drug Information 1997. Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 1997:256972.
  2. Amstey MS. Vaccination in pregnancy. Clin Obstet Gynaecol 1983;10:1322.
  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Immunization during pregnancy. Technical Bulletin. No. 160, October 1991.

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Questions and Answers

BCG vaccine and scarring. Can you get the jab anywhere but the arm?, Hello,
I work as a hospital locum in london and I have been against the BCG injection due to scarring. I am now informed because of bloody agency ways I have to have the BCG or discontinue my work. It is no longer standard to have BCGs in australia as it does not ensure 100% immunity.
I would like to know if the BCG can be injected anywhere other than the arm. I know they prefer the arm scar as an indication that the injection has been done, but immunity could also be tested by another manoux test.
If it has to be the arm, is there anything that can help with the swelling and all the pusssssssssssss? I don't want a scar.

In those countries that still utilize BCG vaccines, the scar on the arm from the injection given shortly after birth should still be there. If the agency prefers a booster be given, then I agree wth you that this could be handled in another way.

Ask your agency if they'd accept a Mantoux, titers or allow you to have the test in a place other than your arm. What about the back of the shoulder? It's fairly easy to access.

But if, in the end, it has to be given in your arm, it will be. You say you don't want a scar but you already know that the scar is the proof. You can't have it both ways.

Note to "scientistx": BCG isn't given intravenously and neither phlebotomy nor a phlebotomist is required.

Is it worth getting the BCG vaccine for an adult in the UK?, I missed out on the heaf test and BCG when I was a child. Given the rise in TB, should I be going to get these now I am an adult (with asthma) living in the city?

Yes. Considering the risks, not just here but when you travel, I would definitely get the jab. It's such a small thing in comparison to the disease you're being innoculated against.

if i have a BCG vaccine when i was born in vietnam may i volunteer in a hospital in the US?, a BCG vaccine stands for bacille Calmette-Guérin, is a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) disease. So my question is can i volunteer in a hospital without a TB test

Do you have your records for the TB vaccination? Of course we know that you will test positive on the skin test, so that's why you're asking, right?

I would think you can but they might want to have you take a chest x-ray before you start.

Recent developments
As a replacement for the Mantoux test, several other tests are being developed. QuantiFERON-TB Gold is a blood test that measures the patient’s immune reactivity to the TB bacteria and is useful for initial and serial testing of persons with an increased risk of latent or active tuberculosis infection.

I would like to know the dose of BCG vaccine for a child of 11 months?, I 'm a student in the college of clinical medicine and would like to know the new doses for BCG.

For infants <12 month 0.05 ml of the reconstituted vaccine is recommended

What happens if a one month old baby got the same vaccine for (BCG) twice in a span of 2 weeks?,

Not sure why a one month old baby is getting a vaccine for tuberculosis. That is not common in the US. Are you in an area w/ a high TB risk? Did the child have negative TB skin test?

EDIT: Thanks for the update. Not sure if there are negative effects since I am not sure about the particular vaccine.

What does the BCG vaccine do and how does the vaccine work?, I would be really grateful if you guys answered properly as it is for my GCSE BIOLOGY

It is used in other countries. the usefulness has never been completely proven. It does have one glaring problem. Once you have been given BCG any subsequent TB skin test will be positive. The skin test is one of the best indicators of infection with tuberculosis. So, taking this wonderful diagnostic test away can certainly hamper evaluation of a patients possible infection status. Sometimes, a vaccine is not beneficial or necessary.

i had the BCG vaccine years ago and last year i had a ppd test is that safe?, What could posibly be the side effects?

You could have a bad reaction but it would happen within a couple of days I believe.
If you didn't have a reaction, don't worry about it, but don't have the ppd again.
Once you have the vaccine getting a ppd will usually come back positive and there is no way to tell if it is infection or the bcg inoculation causing it.
From now on you will just need to get a chest x-ray to check for infection.
With my employees, if they have a positive ppd they are required to have the cxr once every 5 years to check for evidence of infection.
They are required to complete an attestation every year reporting any signs or symptoms of tb if any.

Why does the BCG vaccine (for TB) leave a scar?, I remember getting this vaccination when I was younger (and I remember it hurt like hell) and it left a scar. Looking on the internet I have read that it normally leaves a scar, but not one site I have found has explained WHY.

Can anyone tell me?

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin destroys the cells and causes scar tissue sub cutaneoulsy. The area will eventually heal modestly.

Can BCG vaccine as a baby cause you to test positive for TB your whole life?,

No, as you get older, the immunity wears off (average efficacy of BCG is only about 5 years).