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Bull World Health Organ. 2001;79(4):337-43. Epub 2003 Jul 2.

Safety of the intradermal Copenhagen 1331 BCG vaccine in neonates in Durban, South Africa.

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Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Natal, Private Bag X7, Congella, 4013, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.



To evaluate the safety of the intradermal Copenhagen BCG vaccine in neonates at different levels of delivery and neonatal units of the Durban Functional Region and surrounding regions.


A prospective study was carried out over a two-year period between July 1997 and June 1999. All neonates who had been vaccinated with the intradermal vaccine were evaluated at immunization clinics six weeks after immunization, or earlier if adverse effects occurred.


In total, 9763 neonates were examined: in 95.4% the vaccination scar had healed and 1.5% had no visible scar. Adverse events occurred in 3.1%. The proportion of neonates with no visible vaccination scars decreased over the study period, as did the number with adverse events. The lowest rate of adverse events and the highest rates of healed vaccination scars were seen in the tertiary hospital and regional and district hospitals that were in close proximity to the academic centre involved in this study.


In the study sites, the transition from the percutaneous to intradermal route of administration of BCG vaccine was successful and took place without incurring unacceptably high rates of adverse events. To minimize adverse events, however, it is essential to continue training health personnel involved in implementing intradermal BCG vaccination programmes.

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