Children aged <5 years travelling to countries with high tuberculosis incidence (>40 cases per 100,000 population per year) are at increased risk of acquiring tuberculosis and developing severe disease.2BCG vaccine is most effective at preventing severe tuberculosis (miliary tuberculosis and tuberculous meningitis) in children. See Epidemiology and Vaccine information.
Children should ideally receive the vaccine at least 3 months before departure to a high risk destination. Consider discussing future travel plans with parents and carers of young infants at the earliest possible age.
The risk assessment should take account of the following:
the child’s age
how long they are in the high-risk area — the longer the exposure the higher the risk of infection
the proximity of contact to others — staying with friends or family members in the community increases the risk of infection, particularly if they have a history of recent tuberculosis
If additional information is needed to support the risk assessment, seek expert input. Discuss with state or territory tuberculosis services, a paediatric infectious diseases specialist or travel vaccine centres.
BCG vaccine is not as effective in older children and adults. It is not routinely recommended for people in these age groups who are travelling to a country with high tuberculosis incidence, except in some healthcare workers.
The Department of Health and Aged Care acknowledges First Nations peoples as the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures, and to all Elders both past and present.