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What is it?

Tuberculosis is a serious (sometimes life-threatening) infection of the lungs by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis can also affect other organs in addition to the lungs. 

The tuberculosis vaccine is called BCG, which stands for bacille Calmette-Guerin. The vaccine contains live, attenuated Mycobacterium bovis, which is a relative of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. 


This vaccine is not routinely recommended in the US because tuberculosis is uncommon, and the vaccine has variable efficacy against tuberculosis in adults. In addition, BCG vaccination can cause a positive result on a tuberculin skin test (a test for tuberculosis infection). However, it is widely used in places where tuberculosis is common. 

The BCG vaccine is also used to treat bladder cancer.  

Vaccine Information:

Active Ingredients:

Live, attenuated Mycobacterium bovis bacteria

Inctive Ingredients:
Amounts not given in package insert


  • Attenuated: The pathogen is weakened but not completely inactivated. Attenuated pathogens are too weak to cause disease in almost all people. 

  • Bacteria: A type of single-celled organism. Some can cause disease, but many are harmless and some actually benefit humans by living in the intestines and helping with digestion 

  • Bacterium: The singular of bacteria (one bacterium, two bacteria)

  • Meningitis: inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord

  • Vaccine Efficacy: How much a vaccine reduces your chance of getting a disease

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Last updated: Feb. 12, 2023

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