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 is an extension of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin. BCG immunization for infants in Indonesia is generally carried out for newborns and is recommended no later than before the baby is 3 months old.
For babies who will be given BCG immunization after 3 months of age, a tuberculin test must first be done. Tuberculin test (Mantoux test) is done by injecting TB germ protein (antigen) in the upper arm’s skin layer. The skin will react to antigens, if you’ve been exposed to TB germs. The reaction is a red bump on the skin in the injection area.
The BCG vaccine is made from weakened tuberculosis bacteria and will not cause the vaccine recipient to become ill with TB. The bacterium used is Mycobacterium bovine, which is most similar to the bacteria that cause tuberculosis in humans. Giving 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 of TB meningitis in children.
Tuberculosis is not only at risk of causing lung infections, but also can attack other body parts such as joints, bones, lining of the brain (meningen), and kidneys. Tuberculosis is very dangerous and easily spreads through splashes of saliva, through sneezing or coughing, which are accidentally inhaled by others.
Although it is almost similar to the way it spreads colds or flu, tuberculosis generally requires a longer contact time before someone can get it. Therefore, family members who live at home with TB sufferers have a higher chance of contracting it.
Side Effects of BCG Immunization
After getting BCG immunization, there is no need to panic if it appears like a blister on the injection site. Not infrequently, the wound feels painful and bruised for several days.
After 2-6 weeks, the injection point can enlarge to nearly 1 cm in size, and harden because the fluid on the surface dries. Then, it will leave a small scar. Some people may experience a heavier scar, but generally it will heal after a few weeks.
BCG very rarely causes side effects in the form of anaphylactic allergic reactions. But still better to prevent things that are not desirable 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
BCG immunization dose of 0.05 ml for babies under one year of age. Generally BCG immunization is done in the upper arm. The arm of this section should not be given other immunizations, for a minimum of three months.
Although classified as mandatory immunization, there are several conditions in infants that make BCG immunization necessary to be postponed, such as:
- High fever.
- Skin infection.
- HIV positive, and have not received treatment.
- Cancer treatment or other conditions that weaken the immune system.
- Known anaphylactic reaction to BCG immunization.
- Having been exposed to tuberculosis, or living with tuberculosis sufferers.
BCG immunization is an important action to protect baby’s health. However, consider the baby’s condition before immunization. If necessary, consult with a pediatrician to get the best solution.