BCG Related Complications

BCG stands for Bacillus Calmette Gurrain. It is a vaccine given for protection against tuverculosis in children. It is known to protect agaainst severe and serious forms of tuberculosis like brain TB, miliary TB and disseminated TB. It is usually given an birth or within first six weeks although can be given upto 1 year of age. In India BCG is given to all children.

Normal reaction to BCG vaccine

BCG vaccine is given on the left upper arm by convention. It leads to formation of a small swelling at the injection site which resolves in a few hours. The vaccine site looks essentially normal after this disappears. This is followed by the appearance of a small swelling like a mosquito bite reaction (after six weeks) which soon converts and forms a nodule. This then heals with formation of a scar.

Complications of a BCG Vaccine

  • The commonest complication of BCG vaccine is the enlargment of lymph nodes in the left armpit of the baby. You would feel small nodular swellings.
  • These usually appear in the first 6 months of the vaccination although can appear later in life.
  • Usually the size of the lymph nodes would be small upto 2 cm and they would be firm to feel. Such cases would resolve on their own without any treatment.
  • In case size of the nodes increases or they become softer suggesting presence of pus then we need to remove the pus.
  • There is no role of any anti tubercular medicines.