Barbados, which is considered a low-burdened tuberculosis (TB) country, says it will no longer be administering the Bacilla Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine to all children in Barbados.
Effective January next year, the vaccine will only be administered to children at risk of exposure to TB before the age of five, the Ministry of Health announced in a statement issued today by the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS).
It assured that the risk of children coming into contact with persons with pulmonary TB here was extremely low, given that the annual number of reported cases was less than five per 100,000 population.
The ministry also said its decision to cut back on the vaccine was based on international best practices, extensive research and recommendations made by the World Health Organization’s Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and Vaccine Preventable Diseases and the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation.
“The Ministry of Health is confident that it has a strong National Disease Surveillance System and National Tuberculosis Programme which will ensure that there is early identification and management of anyone diagnosed with TB in Barbados,” the statement added.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). It generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. And if left untreated, TB – the classic symptoms of which are a chronic cough with bloody mucus, fever, night sweats, and weight loss – kills about half of those infected.
The BCG vaccine has proven effective in protecting children under five years of age from complications of the disease but is said to be most effective if administered to children under one year of age, who live or frequent areas with a high burden of tuberculosis disease. (BGIS)