Generic Name: Vaccine Tuberculosis Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.


What is BCG vaccine used for?

BCG vaccine provides immunity or protection against tuberculosis (TB). The vaccine may be given to persons at high risk of developing TB. It is also used to treat bladder tumors or bladder cancer.

This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How should I take BCG vaccine?

Tuberculosis vaccination:

Your doctor or a health care provider will administer this medicine. When used to protect against TB, it is injected into the skin. Keep the vaccination area dry for 24 hours after receiving the vaccine, and keep the area clean until you cannot tell the vaccination area from the skin around it.

BCG vaccine is usually given only one time but may be repeated if there is not a good response in 2-3 months. Response is measured by a TB skin test.

Bladder cancer:

  • When used for bladder cancer, the medicine flows into your bladder through a tube or catheter.
  • Avoid drinking fluids for 4 hours before your treatment. You should empty your bladder before treatment.
  • During the first hour after the medication is infused, you will lie on your stomach, back, and sides for 15 minutes each.
  • Then you will stand, but you should keep the medication in your bladder for another hour. If you cannot keep the medication in your bladder for the entire 2 hours, tell your health care provider.
  • At the end of 2 hours, you will empty your bladder in a seated manner for safety reasons. Your urine should be disinfected for 6 hours after the medication is administered. Pour a similar amount of undiluted bleach in the toilet after you urinate. Let it stand for 15 minutes before flushing.
  • Various dosing schedules may be used. Your doctor will schedule your treatment. Ask your doctor to explain any directions you do not understand.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use BCG vaccine.

How do I store BCG vaccine?

BCG vaccine is best stored in the refrigerator. To prevent drug damage, do not freeze. There may be different brands of BCG vaccine that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush BCG vaccine down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.


Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using BCG vaccine?

Consult with your doctor or pharmacist, if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • You have allergy with any of active or inactive ingredients of BCG vaccine or other medications.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
  • You have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?


There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using BCG vaccine during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking BCG vaccine. BCG vaccine is pregnancy risk category C, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown


It is not known whether BCG is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions from BCG in nursing infants, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or not to vaccinate, taking into account the importance of tuberculosis vaccination to the mother.

Always consult your health care provider prior to using BCG vaccine if you are pregnant, breastfeeding.


Side effects

What side effects can occur from BCG vaccine?

Here are common side effects:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Small red areas at the site of injection (these usually appear 10-14 days after injection and slowly decrease in size. They should disappear after about 6 months.)
  • Fever
  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent or painful urination
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • Severe skin rash
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Wheezing

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.



What drugs may interact with BCG vaccine?

BCG vaccine may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

BCG vaccine may make interactions with these medications:

  • Antibiotics
  • Cancer chemotherapy agents
  • Steroids
  • Tuberculosis medications
  • Vitamins

Does food or alcohol interact with BCG vaccine?

BCG vaccine may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with BCG vaccine?

BCG vaccine may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

BCG vaccine for prevention of tuberculosis should not be given to persons whose immunologic responses are impaired because of HIV infections, congenital immunodeficiency such as chronic granulomatous disease or interferon gamma receptor deficiency, leukemia, lymphoma, or generalized malignancy.


The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using BCG vaccine.

What is the dose of BCG vaccine for an adult?

Tuberculosis immunization

  • Used as TB immunization, primarily in developing countries.
  • 2-0.3 ml percutaneous.
  • Conduct tuberculin test 2-3 months after percutaneous administration; if test negative repeat vaccination.

Immunotherapy for bladder cancer

Initiate treatment 7-14 days after biopsy.

Therapy: Instill one dose into bladder; retain for 2 hours; repeat dose once weekly for 6 weeks followed by 1 treatment at 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months after initial treatment.

TICE BCG: Instill one dose into bladder; retain for 2 hours; repeat dose once weekly for 6 weeks (may repeat cycle once) followed by once monthly for 6-12 months.

What is the dose of BCG vaccine for a child?

Tuberculosis immunization

Used as TB immunization, primarily in developing countries.

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended use: TB exposed TB skin test-negative infants and children.

<1 month

  • Half-strength (reconstitute with 2 ml instead of 1 ml sterile water).
  • 2-0.3 ml percutaneous.
  • Conduct tuberculin test 2-3 months after percutaneous administration; if test negative repeat vaccination after 1 year.

>1 month

  • 2-0.3 ml percutaneous.
  • Conduct tuberculin test 2-3 months after percutaneous administration; if test negative repeat vaccination.

How is BCG vaccine available?

BCG vaccine is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • BCG vaccine is supplied in a box of one vial of BCG. Each vial contains 1 to 8 x 108 CFU, which is equivalent to approximately 50 mg (wet weight), as lyophilized (freeze-dried) powder.

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

It is also important to carry a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking with you in case of emergencies.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of BCG vaccine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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