Child hugging their teddy with a plaster being placed on their arm after a vaccination

Paediatric BCG service

Information for parents/carers

The BCG is a vaccine which protects against tuberculosis (TB). TB is a serious infection that affects the lungs and other parts of the body

TB is spread through close contact with people who have TB and symptoms.

You are more likely to contract TB if:

  • Someone within your house has active TB.
  • You were born or live in an area where TB is common.
  • Have a weakened immune system.
  • Are under 5 years of age.
  • Smoke drink or use drugs on a regular basis.
  • Live in overcrowded and unhealthy conditions
  • Have had TB before which was not treated appropriately.

Service Information

The BCG vaccine has been commissioned by National Health Service England (NHSE) to be delivered in community clinics for residents of our four NELFT London Boroughs, Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge & Waltham Forest.

The neonatal BCG programme is risk based and is no longer delivered in maternity units. Babies who are eligible for BCG are referred to community vaccination clinics.

As of the 1st of September 2021, the NHS introduced a new screening test to the New-born Blood Spot test (heel prick test on day 5 following birth) for Severe combined immunodeficiency disease or SCID - a genetic disorder. The treatment for this condition is more complicated if a baby has had the BCG vaccine.

The NELFT BCG Team is made up of registered nurses, health care assistants and administrators and we work alongside other professionals including health visitors, practice nurses and GP’s.

Our team will be contacting you from day 12 following the birth of your baby to book you an appointment if your baby is eligible, before 28 days of age – once the SCID result is available.

Babies/children who fall within the PHE priority group A as detailed below, residing within the 4 NELFT London boroughs will be offered BCG vaccine in the community.

A) All infants (aged 0 to 12 months) with a parent or grandparent who was born in a country where the annual incidence of TB is 40/100,000 or greater.

The neonatal BCG vaccination is a specialist service, and we would encourage all parents to respond to their appointments. Non-attendance to appointments will lead to your child being discharged from the service.

You can find details in the leaflet here.

Our clinics often have several clinic streams running at one time, so please be aware that these clinics are very busy and you will be seen in order of appointment not arrival. Please factor in your journey time and parking when attending your appointment as lateness may mean an increased waiting time to be seen or having to rebook your appointment.

If you are unable to make your appointment please contact us as soon as possible so that the appointment may be offered to another child.

Please also remember to bring your red book with you.

We do not recommend private BCG vaccination since you have no assurance regarding the potency (strength) of these vaccines.

Injection leaflet:

If you are anxious or worried about your baby having the vaccine

The BCG is safe to give as soon as we receive their bloodspot results and should be given by day 28 after birth.

It does not affect the other vaccinations given at 8 weeks and no interval is required.

It is not given by your GP – but by a specialist immunisation service

Your child will not develop TB from this vaccine.

The BCG is now a risk based programme and only offered to those at risk. It protects babies from the most serious childhood forms of TB including Meningitis and disseminated TB

Your baby has been offered the vaccine as they are deemed at risk – they are likely to spend time with someone with TB.

This vaccine is very unlikely to negatively affect your baby.

  • The chances of your child developing a fever or pain are very very unlikely.
  • Liquid paracetamol should not be given prior to this vaccine. In the unlikely event your child should develop a fever after this vaccination, please contact either your GP or 111 who will be able to give you advice.
  • Paracetamol should not be given to babies under 8 weeks of age.

Your appointment

Before you attend your appointment, please be aware:

  • The BCG vaccine is made from a live but weakened strain of TB bacteria
  • The body will be triggered to protect you against TB, creating antibodies – but it will not give you TB

The reactions we expect to see include:

  • a slight swelling, redness and tenderness at the injection site followed by a local lesion
  • some weeks later this lesion evolves into a small ulcer
  • after some months this ulcer will heal leaving a small, flat scar
  • a slight swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpit may be experienced

Uncommon side effects can include:

  • soreness or discharge from where the injection was given
  • a high temperature (fever)
  • headache
  • swollen glands under the armpit in the arm where the injection was given

However as this vaccine is given just under the skin, these side effects are very rare. Should your baby (under 8 weeks of age) develop a fever you will need to contact 111.

We cannot give your child the vaccine if:

  • They are allergic to any of the ingredients
  • They are unwell with a fever or have a skin infection
  • They have a disease or condition that effects their immune system
  • Mother received any treatment that suppresses the immune system while pregnant or breast feeding
  • They are taking any medication that affects the immune system including radio therapy, chemotherapy and corticosteroids
  • They have been diagnosed with any malignant conditions including leukaemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease
  • They have been diagnosed with HIV
  • They are being treated for TB

To make your appointment as swift as possible we kindly ask the following:

  • Please ensure you have read all of the above information before attending your appointment.
  • Please dress your baby in easy to remove clothing so we can easily access their upper left arm.
  • Please limit the amount of people attending to 2 persons – our rooms are small and have limited seating space.
  • At least one adult must be the parent of the child in order to give consent.
  • Please try to avoid bringing older siblings where possible, as supervising them will be difficult while your baby is being vaccinated.
  • Please aim to attend 5 minutes before your appointment time to allow check in and preparation.
  • If you require an interpreter, please let the team know as soon as possible.
  • If your child has an underlying condition, please consult with your GP / consultant prior to your appointment to confirm they are happy for your child to receive their vaccination. Preferably in writing.
  • Please be aware that this is a busy clinic with a high appointment turnover, there are facilities available outside the clinic room to feed and change your baby.

The neonatal BCG vaccination is a specialist service, and we would encourage all parents to respond to their appointments. Non-attendance to appointments will lead to your child being discharged from the service.

NHS England have set up an email contact point to enable parents, carer’s and other members of the public to raise questions or concerns on availability and on priority groups if they wish to do so. The email contact details are