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Rev Saude Publica. 2007 Sep;41 Suppl 1:59-66.

[BCG vaccine against tuberculosis: its protective effect and vaccination policies].

[Article in Portuguese]

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  • 1Instituto de Saúde Coletiva, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador, BA, Brazil.



The BCG vaccine has been in use since 1921, but still arouses controversy and uncertainties. The objective was to analyze the protective effect of the BCG vaccine in its first and second doses and the accompanying vaccination policies.


A systematic review of the literature in both English and Spanish was carried out, covering the period 1948 to 2006, using the PubMed database. The main search terms used included BCG vaccine, BCG efficacy, BCG and tuberculosis. The studies were grouped by design, with the main results from the clinic tests, case-control studies and meta-analyses presented separately.


The protective effect of the first dose of the BCG vaccine against tuberculosis in its miliary and meningeal forms is high. However, the results vary in relation to the pulmonary form of the disease, with some indicating zero effect and others levels of nearly 80%. Research is being carried out to develop new vaccines that could substitute the BCG or be used as a booster.


There are evidences that the protective effect of the BCG vaccine does not increase with a second dose. In spite of its limitations and the expectation that a new tuberculosis vaccine will be developed in the future, the BCG vaccine remains an important tool in controlling the harmful effects of tuberculosis, particularly in countries with medium or high incidence levels of the disease.

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