Intended for healthcare professionals


Stopping routine vaccination for tuberculosis in schools

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 22 September 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:647
  1. Paul Fine (, professor of communicable disease epidemiology
  1. Department of Infectious and Topical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT

    Brings the UK into line with much of the rest of the world

    From autumn 2005 the long running routine programme to vaccinate schoolchildren against tuberculosis with BCG vaccine will stop. This follows a decision by the chief medical, nursing, and pharmaceutical officers in July that there should be selective vaccination of high risk infants and other groups rather than routine vaccination of adolescents negative on tuberculin testing.1 This decision comes after several years of discussion within the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, and it closes an important chapter in the complex history of BCG vaccination. It comes as notifications of tuberculosis in England and Wales are at their highest level since 1983. The decision is well justified.

    This BCG programme has been unique from its start in the mid-1950s, when a Danish vaccine (later produced by Glaxo) was introduced on the basis of efficacy shown in a trial carried out by the UK Medical Research Council.2 The trial had been carried out in approximately 30 000 adolescents for pragmatic reasons—in order to recruit participants who were still tuberculin negative, but who were about to enter a period of high risk …

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