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BCG tuberculosis (TB) vaccine

Service summary

BCG tuberculosis (TB) vaccine

HRCH provides the BCG vaccination to eligible infants across the London Boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Hounslow, Kingston, Merton, Richmond and Sutton. 
The BCG vaccination protects against TB meningitis in the younger age group and is a targeted vaccination, which means it is only offered to babies if they meet strict eligibility criteria. 

Eligibility criteria

  • Aged between 28 days and 12 months and living in the borough of Hounslow.
  • Aged between 28 days and 12 months old, living in Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Kingston, Merton, Richmond and Sutton and have a parent or grandparent born in a country where the annual incidence of TB is 40 in 100,000 or greater (see the WHO website for current countries).

Babies only need to have one BCG vaccination and some maternity hospitals have started to administer the BCG vaccination before 28 days, so please check whether the baby has received a BCG before referring them.

NHS England is correctly supporting the administration of the BCG vaccine to children who meet the eligibility criteria and are aged under 6 years.

If you are a parent or carer of a baby or child who you thinks meets the criteria please ask your health visitor or GP to refer to us. 

To refer a baby or a child, please use the referral form below. 

How common is TB in the UK?

TB isn't very common in the UK. There were 6,240 cases of TB in the UK in 2015. Rates of TB are higher in some communities of non-UK born people. This is largely because of their connections to areas of the world where rates of TB are high.

Is TB contagious?

Yes. TB is spread when a person with TB in their lungs or throat, coughs or sneezes and somebody else breathes in the droplets of saliva containing the infection.
However, TB is not as infectious as the common cold or flu.

You usually need to spend a long time in close contact with an infected person before you catch TB. For example, infections usually spread between family members who are living in the same house.

You are unlikely to catch TB by sitting or standing next to someone who is infected. TB cannot be spread through touch, or sharing cutlery, bedding or clothes.

On the day of the appointment

Please bring your child and their red book to the appointment. Please be aware that on site parking is not available at all of the clinics so you will need to allow plenty of time to park. 

Please complete the consent form sent to you with your appointment letter.

We will ask you the following questions at the appointment:

  • Is your child well?

  • Have you or your child received any treatment for cancers or taken steroids in the last 6 months?

  • Do you or your baby suffer from any immune deficiency or are either of you immunocompromised/have HIV?

  • Has your child come into contact with anyone with Tuberculosis (TB)?

  • Has the baby been out of the UK for more than 3 months to a high risk country?

Aftercare advice

It is unlikely that the BCG vaccination will cause a high temperature in your baby and therefore paracetamol is not required. Any reaction is likely to be localised in the injection site.

Some babies have no reaction to the vaccination and some have a bigger reaction.

Leave the injection site open to the air and do not cover with plasters unless you are taking the baby swimming

Bath your baby as normal but do not apply any products directly to the site or massage the area.

The injection site may swell and can be large, up to the size of a 10p coin.

The injection site may also look like an abscess and take up to 12 weeks to heal.

  • Your baby can have their routine vaccinations at any time before or after their BCG but should not have any further injections in their left arm for 12 weeks/3 months after their BCG.
    When to seek advice
    If the injection site becomes bigger than a 10p coin

  • If the redness and swelling moves away from the injection site

  • If your baby develops any lumps or swelling in the armpit

  • If the injection site has not healed by 12 weeks

  • Hounslow, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton
    020 3771 6050

  • Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich
    020 3771 6055

More information

If you need more information, see the NHS website (opens in a new window)


Contact the BCG team

Email: hrch.bcg@nhs.net

Phone number for parents and professionals: 

  • For babies living in Hounslow, Richmond, Kingston, Sutton and Merton:  020 3771 6050

  • For babies living in Greenwich , Bexley and Bromley:  020 3771 6055

Please do not leave messages on both phones. This vaccine is routine and non-urgent – calls will be returned but may take a 1-2 days.

Related documents

Referral information