One of the many things that the human race is cursed with is Tuberculosis. Sadly, it proves to be even more unfortunate, when it strikes little adorable kids. In developing countries, which are marked with a certain level of poverty, TB is a quite a common disease that generally affects the lungs, and in rare cases some other vital organs. Nonetheless, as every problem has a solution, so does Tuberculosis. In this case, the solution is known as BCG Vaccine.
Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine is made from a strain of the damaged or destabilized live bovine tuberculosis bacillus, called Mycobacterium Bovis. Surprisingly, its discovery is accredited to have made to cure smallpox, in 1854 by Jean Antoine Villemin.
Ideally it should be given to the infants intradermally, within first 15 days after their birth; however, it can also be given within five years of their age. It is generally given in combination with oral polio dose. Since young age is more vulnerable to Tuberculosis, it is widely advised that BCG Vaccine must be given immediately after the birth, before a kid is exposed to the disease. Even though Indian Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend a booster dose, some countries, like Gulf, advocate the practice of one or two boosters.
BCG Vaccine is said to cause a small swelling at the injected site immediately after it is delivered. Even though after 6 to 8 hours the swelling fades away, it reappears within one or 1 & ½ month. This time it grows in size and forms a nodule, which expulses some fluid and forms an ulcer. When this ulcer heals, it leaves a mark behind for the life time. It is established that if ulcer appears within seven days of injection, the kid is carrying Tuberculosis. Immediate medical attention is very imperative at this stage.
There are few other diseases that respond to some extent to the shot of BCG Vaccine. Diseases like Leprosy, Type 1 Diabetes, Cancer Immunotherapy, Painful Bladder Syndrome, and Multiple Sclerosis respond if this vaccine is delivered. Apart from this, it is also renowned for its matchless safety record. The modern BCG Vaccine has existed for more than 80 years, and is one of the most widely used amongst all current vaccines. As a matter of fact, it is a part of National Childhood Immunization Program in many countries. Various countries, like India, UK, Brazil, and Pakistan are known to practice BCG mass immunization programs. USA, on the other hand, is known to rely on detection and treatment of TB.
However, it is also subject to some controversies, the biggest of which, is its variable efficacy found in different clinical trials in different countries. For instance, trials conducted in UK show protective effect of 60 to 80%, whereas those conducted in some other countries show no protective effect at all. Interestingly, the vaccine’s efficacy seems to diminish in places that are close to the equator.
In any case, BCG Vaccine remains one of the most used vaccines, and is known to be made by various manufacturers by using different genetic strains, which results in varied vaccine potency. Few manufacturers of this vaccine are Merck Serono, Dianon Systems, PowerJect Pharma, and Statens serum Institute of Denmark.
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