Young children travelling to countries with a high tuberculosis incidence (>40 cases per 100,000 population per year) are at increased risk of acquiring tuberculosis and developing severe disease.2 BCG vaccine is most effective at preventing severe tuberculosis (miliary tuberculosis and tuberculosis meningitis) in children. See Epidemiology and Vaccine information.

The risk depends on:

  • the child’s age — those aged <5 years are particularly at risk
  • how long they are in the high-risk area
  • the tuberculosis incidence at the destination

See the World Health Organization’s country-specific incidence data.3

Assess the need for BCG vaccination for young children who will be travelling to a country with high tuberculosis incidence for an extended period. Discuss this with state or territory tuberculosis services, or with a paediatric infectious diseases specialist.

Children should ideally receive the vaccine at least 3 months before departure. If relevant, consider future travel plans at birth.

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.

Page history

Last updated: 
5 June 2018
Last reviewed: 
5 June 2018

Definitions

BCG
bacille Calmette-Guérin