The Ministry of Health has determined that it is no longer necessary to give the Bacilla Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine routinely to all children in Barbados.
It has advised that, effective January next year, the BCG vaccine will now be administered to children who may be at risk of exposure to tuberculosis (TB) disease before the age of five.
In a statement today, the Ministry explained: “The BCG vaccine protects children under five years of age from complications of tuberculosis disease and is most effective if administered to children under one year of age, who live or frequent areas with a high burden of tuberculosis disease.”
According to the statement, since Barbados is a low-burdened tuberculosis country, the risk of children coming into contact with persons with pulmonary TB is extremely low. This, it said, is borne out by an annual number of reported cases of less than five per 100,000 population.
The decision, the Ministry stated, is 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 emphasised.
Ministry of Health