General Practitioners Committee (Wales)

BCG and Heaf Testing

As you are all aware, the routine BCG vaccination programme for schoolchildren in the UK for TB ceased in summer 2005. This was recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which advises the four UK country Health Departments on vaccination. Welsh Government uses JCVI recommendations as a basis for its immunisation policy.
JCVI has stated that the aim of the UK BCG immunisation programme is now to immunise those at increased risk of developing severe (TB) disease and / or exposure to TB infection.
For neonates in this country if either of their parents or either of their grandparents come from countries with a TB incidence of 40 per 100,000 or more (Who’s definition of a high incidence country) they should be given a BCG vaccination via the locally approved service which will be provided by the LHB.
Likewise other children (aged up to under 16 years) moving to the UK from countries with a high TB incidence should be offered BCG vaccination, again via the locally approved services.
We often assume that this means Sub-Saharan African, South Asian, and some Far Eastern countries, but a number of EU countries in the former Soviet Union, and those in the Russian Federation are similarly affected.
Attached is a web link that lists estimated TB incidence rates by country:
Practices can identify eligible individuals when they register with your practice, but you will also need to work closely with the Health Visitor and School Health Services to identify these at risk groups, so that they can be referred to the local BCG vaccination service.

Dr Phil White
GPC Wales rep on the Welsh Immunisation Group
5th. July 2011

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