Why Is the TB Vaccine Not Given in the U.S.?

Reviewed on 8/30/2021

TB (tuberculosis) is a bacterial lung infection. There is a TB vaccine called Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) given in many countries to prevent infection with TB, but it is not routinely used in the U.S. because the disease is not common in the U.S.
TB (tuberculosis) is a bacterial lung infection. There is a TB vaccine called Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) given in many countries to prevent infection with TB, but it is not routinely used in the U.S. because the disease is not common in the U.S.

TB (tuberculosis) is an infectious illness caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria that tends to affect the lungs.

There is a tuberculosis vaccine called Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) given in many countries to prevent infection with TB, however, BCG is not routinely used to prevent TB in the U.S. because the disease is not common in the U.S. 

TB is highly contagious and is still a leading cause of death in other parts of the world. Travelers to parts of the world where TB is prevalent are advised to avoid close contact or prolonged time with known TB patients in crowded, enclosed environments such as hospitals, clinics, prisons, or homeless shelters.

What Are Symptoms of TB?

Symptoms of active tuberculosis disease include:

How Is TB Diagnosed?

TB (tuberculosis) is diagnosed with the following tests:

  • Tuberculin skin test, sometimes also called a purified protein derivative test (PPD)
  • Blood test (interferon-gamma release assays [IGRAs]) 
    • Not available everywhere

What Is the Treatment for TB?

TB (tuberculosis) can be cured but treatment regimens last for months and patients must take all medicines for the duration they are prescribed, exactly as prescribed.

  • If patients stop taking medications before the prescribed course is finished, or they do not take medications as directed, they can become sick again and they may be resistant to the initial medications. 
  • Drug-resistant TB is more difficult and more expensive to treat. 
  • Untreated tuberculosis can be deadly. 

Treatment for latent tuberculosis infection usually lasts 3 months or longer and includes several different drug regimens plus monthly monitoring to check for signs of medication toxicity, such as liver damage.

Treatment for active tuberculosis disease usually lasts 6 to 9 months and regimens for treating active TB disease have an intensive phase of 2 months, followed by a continuation phase of either 4 or 7 months (total of 6 to 9 months for treatment)

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Reviewed on 8/30/2021
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/tuberculosis-beyond-the-basics?search=tuberculosis&source=search_result&selectedTitle=2~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=2

https://www.cdc.gov/tb/default.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/tb/index.html