Infants born in Australia to mothers from countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis: to BCG or not to BCG?

Amanda Gwee, Ranmali Rodrigo, Dan Casalaz, Nicole Ritz and Nigel Curtis
Med J Aust 2013; 199 (5): . || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10107
Published online: 2 September 2013

To the Editor: BCG is an effective vaccine to prevent tuberculosis (TB) in young children travelling to countries with a high prevalence of TB.1 Although it does not completely mitigate the risk of developing TB, nor the need for preventive therapy after a significant TB exposure, it provides about 80% protection against the severe forms of TB that affect infants and young children.2 In Australia, routine BCG vaccination ceased in 1985, and vaccination of children now effectively relies on the initiative of parents. A study in the United Kingdom reported that only 6% of parents were aware of national BCG vaccination recommendations.3 We aimed to determine the proportion of mothers from high-TB-prevalence countries giving birth in Australia who were planning to travel to these countries with their newborn child, and to assess their knowledge of the need to BCG-vaccinate their child.

  • Amanda Gwee1
  • Ranmali Rodrigo2
  • Dan Casalaz2
  • Nicole Ritz3,4
  • Nigel Curtis1,3

  • 1 Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne and Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 4 University Children’s Hospital, Basel, Switzerland.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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