Tuberculosis vaccine

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that today mainly occurs in Africa, South America and Asia. It has also increased in recent years in Eastern Europe. If you have had tuberculosis, you have a lifelong immunity to the disease, but there is a small risk of relapse later in life as a lowered immune system can lead to a latent tuberculosis flaring up again. Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium. You can get lung tuberculosis, but also meningitis or a disease spread to several organs in the body – so-called billion tuberculosis – occurs.

How is the disease transmitted?

The disease is spread mainly via the respiratory tract. Close contact with an infected person is required to become ill. It is often family members who infect their relatives.

Symptoms of tuberculosis

Classic symptoms of the disease are cough, weight loss, night sweats, fever and fatigue. Sometimes the vomiting contains mucus or blood. If you have contracted tuberculosis, the symptoms can vary depending on which organs have been affected.

Vaccine against tuberculosis

The vaccine used is a live attenuated vaccine. The name of the vaccine is abbreviated BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guèrin) and is named after the scientists who developed it.

Vaccination against tuberculosis was introduced in Sweden in the 1940s but was removed from the general vaccination program in 1975 when tuberculosis was no longer a widespread disease. The vaccine is given at 6 months of age. Vaccination can protect young children against severe forms of tuberculosis. It is not given in general but only to children with a particularly high risk of infection, e.g. originating from a country with an increased incidence of tuberculosis or if a close family member is ill. It can also be given if a child is to stay for a long time (more than 3 months) in a country where the risk of tuberculosis is high and the child will come into close contact with the local population. The vaccination is not usually repeated, but is given in a single dose.

The vaccine is not normally given to adults. The reason is that the effect of the vaccine is not considered good enough as you get older. Healthcare professionals in Sweden are no longer vaccinated.

Any vaccination should be done well in advance of departure, the protection takes 6-8 weeks to develop.