Scrapping BCG vaccination in British schools is justified

September 22, 2005

From autumn 2005, the long running routine programme to vaccinate school children against tuberculosis with BCG vaccine will stop. This decision brings the UK into line with much of the rest of the world and is well justified, writes Professor Paul Fine in this week's BMJ.

The spread of tuberculosis in the United Kingdom has changed greatly over the years since the BCG programme began. The annual risk of infection has declined from about 2% a year in 1950 to less than 1 per 1,000 today, and the disease has become restricted to segments of the population, in particular immigrant communities. The number of cases in people born in the United Kingdom reached an all time low in 2003.

Although the criteria set by the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease for shifting away from routine BCG vaccination were achieved in the 1990s, policy makers were reluctant to stop the programme in schools because of lingering concerns that increases in the prevalence of HIV and tuberculosis internationally might increase the risk of tuberculosis in the UK general population, explains the author.

This has not occurred, and it is clear that the risk of tuberculosis among immigrant communities declines over time once they have settled in the United Kingdom, and that the imported disease has not led to increases in the risk of disease for the indigenous population.

Under the new policy, BCG vaccination will be offered to infants in communities with an average incidence of tuberculosis of at least 40 per 100,000 and to unvaccinated individuals who come from, or whose parents or grandparents come from countries where the incidence exceeds 40 per 100,000.

BCG vaccination will continue to have an important role in protecting children in high risk populations from tuberculosis, says the author. Coupled with vigorous efforts to identify and treat cases, and to ascertain and offer prophylaxis to people with latent infection, the new policy should allow more efficient control of tuberculosis in the entire UK population.
-end-


BMJ

Related Tuberculosis Articles from Brightsurf:

Scientists find new way to kill tuberculosis
Scientists have discovered a new way of killing the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB), using a toxin produced by the germ itself.

Blocking the iron transport could stop tuberculosis
The bacteria that cause tuberculosis need iron to survive. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now solved the first detailed structure of the transport protein responsible for the iron supply.

Tuberculosis: New insights into the pathogen
Researchers at the University of W├╝rzburg and the Spanish Cancer Research Centre have gained new insights into the pathogen that causes tuberculosis.

Unmasking the hidden burden of tuberculosis in Mozambique
The real burden of tuberculosis is probably higher than estimated, according to a study on samples from autopsies performed in a Mozambican hospital.

HIV/tuberculosis co-infection: Tunneling towards better diagnosis
1.2 million people in the world are co-infected by the bacteria which causes tuberculosis and AIDS.

Reducing the burden of tuberculosis treatment
A research team led by MIT has developed a device that can lodge in the stomach and deliver antibiotics to treat tuberculosis, which they hope will make it easier to cure more patients and reduce health care costs.

Tuberculosis: Commandeering a bacterial 'suicide' mechanism
The bacteria responsible for tuberculosis can be killed by a toxin they produce unless it is neutralized by an antidote protein.

A copper bullet for tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is a sneaky disease, and the number one cause of death from infectious disease worldwide.

How damaging immune cells develop during tuberculosis
Insights into how harmful white blood cells form during tuberculosis infection point to novel targets for pharmacological interventions, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Valentina Guerrini and Maria Laura Gennaro of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and colleagues.

How many people die from tuberculosis every year?
The estimates for global tuberculosis deaths by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) differ considerably for a dozen countries, according to a study led by ISGlobal.

Read More: Tuberculosis News and Tuberculosis Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.