Benefits of BCG Immunization for Babies – BCG immunization is one of the immunizations that must be given to infants. Its function is to prevent tuberculosis (TB) or what is now known as TB.

BCG stands for Bacillus Calmette-Guérin. BCG immunization for infants in Indonesia is generally carried out for newborns and it is recommended that it be given at the latest before the baby is 3 months old.

For babies who will be given BCG immunization after 3 months of age, they must first do a tuberculin test. The tuberculin test (Mantoux test) is done by injecting the TB germ protein (antigen) into the skin layer of the upper arm. The skin will react to the antigen, if it has been exposed to TB germs. The reaction is in the form of a red lump on the skin at the injection site.

Preventing Tuberculosis

The BCG vaccine is made from weakened tuberculosis bacteria and will not cause the recipient of the vaccine to become sick with TB. The bacteria used is Mycobacterium bovine, which is most similar to the bacteria that causes tuberculosis in humans. This vaccine will trigger the immune system to produce cells that can protect us from tuberculosis bacteria. BCG immunization is very effective in preventing tuberculosis, including the most dangerous type, namely TB meningitis in children.

Tuberculosis is not only at risk of causing lung infections, but can also attack other parts of the body such as joints, bones, lining of the brain (meninges), and kidneys. Tuberculosis is very dangerous and is easily spread by splashes of saliva, through sneezing or coughing, which someone else accidentally inhales.

Although similar to the way a cold or flu spreads, tuberculosis generally requires a longer contact time before a person can become infected. Therefore, family members who live in the same house with TB sufferers have a higher chance of contracting it.

BCG Immunization Side Effects

After receiving BCG immunization, there is no need to panic if it appears like blisters at the injection area. Not infrequently, the wound feels sore and bruised for several days.

After 2-6 weeks, the injection point may enlarge to almost 1 cm in size, and harden because the liquid on the surface dries up. Then, it will leave a small scar. Some people may experience heavier scars, but they generally heal after a few weeks.

BCG rarely causes side effects in the form of anaphylactic allergic reactions. But it’s still better to prevent unwanted things from happening if allergies arise. To be aware of dangerous side effects, vaccination must be carried out by a doctor or medical officer who knows the proper handling of allergies.

What to Look For Before BCG Immunization?

The dose of BCG immunization is 0.05 ml for infants under one year of age. Generally, the injection of BCG immunization is carried out on the upper arm. This part of the arm should not be given other immunizations, for at least three months.

Even though it is classified as mandatory immunization, there are several conditions for babies that make it necessary to postpone the BCG immunization, such as:

  • High fever.
  • Skin infection.
  • HIV positive, and has not received treatment.
  • Treatment of cancer or other conditions that weaken the immune system.
  • Known to experience anaphylactic reaction to BCG immunization.
  • Have had tuberculosis, or live with someone with tuberculosis.

BCG immunization is an important measure to protect the health of babies. However, also pay attention to the condition of the baby before immunization. If necessary, consult a pediatrician for the best solution.