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

Frank H Beard and Kristine K Macartney
Med J Aust 2014; 200 (3): . || doi: 10.5694/mja13.11307
Published online: 17 February 2014

To the Editor: Gwee and colleagues recently reported a lack of parental knowledge of the potential need for BCG vaccination of Australian-born infants before overseas travel to tuberculosis (TB)-endemic countries.1 We believe this study highlights the need to examine BCG program delivery across Australia but does not, as they suggest, provide data on which to recommend BCG vaccination for all infants born to mothers from high-TB-prevalence countries. Policy regarding BCG use should be informed by a better understanding of TB epidemiology and disease acquisition in young Australian children and the benefits and risks of vaccination. Only limited data on mode of disease acquisition in children are available from small case series.2

  • National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Sydney, NSW.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Gwee A, Rodrigo R, Casalaz D, et al. Infants born in Australia to mothers from countries with a high prevalence of tuberculosis: to BCG or not to BCG? Med J Aust 2013; 199: 324-326. <MJA full text>
  • 2. Britton PN, Yeung V, Lowbridge C, et al. Spectrum of disease in children treated for tuberculosis at a tertiary children’s hospital in Australia. J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc 2013; 2: 224-231.
  • 3. National Tuberculosis Advisory Committee. The BCG vaccine: information and recommendations for use in Australia: National Tuberculosis Advisory Committee update October 2012. Commun Dis Intell 2013; 37: E65-E72.
  • 4. Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. Vaccine-preventable diseases: tuberculosis. In: The Australian immunisation handbook. 10th ed. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2013.


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