The Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG vaccine), administered to millions of Indian children soon after birth to protect against tuberculosis, could be linked to fewer Covid-19 cases in India.The study found that countries without universal policies of BCG vaccination, such as Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States, have been more severely affected compared to countries with universal and long-standing BCG policies
As one of the most widely used vaccines in the world, the BCG vaccine has existed for nearly a century and has been shown to be an effective tool in preventing meningitis and disseminated TB in children, the U.S. researchers said.
The inoculation is also believed to offer broad-ranging protection against respiratory infections, which present similar symptoms to COVID-19.
BCG stands for Bacille Calmette Guerin. BCG Vaccine is a weakened (attenuated) version of a bacteria called Mycobacterium bovis which is closely related to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the agent responsible for tuberculosis.
Camille Guerin (1872-1961) and Albert Calmette (1863-1933) produced the BCG strain of the bacteria at the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1921. Within a decade the BCG vaccine was being given in France and many other countries.
The BCG vaccine is part of India’s universal immunisation programme and administered to millions of children at birth or soon after it.
Universal Immunisation Program
Immunization Programme in India was introduced in 1978 as ‘Expanded Programme of Immunization’ (EPI) by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. In 1985, the programme was modified as ‘Universal Immunization Programme’ (UIP) to be implemented in phased manner to cover all districts in the country by 1989-90 with the one of largest health programme in the world.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India provides several vaccines to infants, children and pregnant women through the Universal Immunisation Programme.
Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Vaccines are substances that stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease.
Vaccines provided under UIP:
- BCG Vaccine-BCG stands for Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine. It is given to infants to protect them from tubercular meningitis and disseminated TB.
When to give – BCG vaccine is given at birth or as early as possible till 1year of
Route and site- BCG is given as intradermal injection in left upper arm.
- OPV-OPV stands for Oral Polio Vaccine. It protects children from poliomylitis.
When to give- OPV is given at birth called zero dose and three doses are given at 6, 10 and 14 weeks. A booster dose is given at 16-24 months of age.
Route and site – OPV is given orally in the form of two drops.
- Hepatitis B vaccine – Hepatitis B vaccine protects from Hepatitis B virus infection.
When to give- Hepatitis B vaccine is given at birth or as early as possible within 24 hours. Subsequently 3 dose are given at 6, 10 and 14 weeks in combination with DPT and Hib in the form of pentavalent vaccine.
Route and site- Intramuscular injection is given at anterolateral side of mid thigh
- Pentavalent Vaccine-Pentavalent vaccine is a combined vaccine to protect children from five diseases Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertusis, Haemophilis influenza type b infection and Hepatitis B.
When to give – Three doses are given at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age (can be given till one year of age).
Route and site-Pentavalent vaccine is given intramuscularly on anterolateral side of mid thigh
- Rotavirus Vaccine-RVV stands for Rotavirus vaccine. It gives protection to infants and children against rotavirus diarrhoea. It is given in select states.
When to give – Three doses of vaccine are given at 6, 10, 14 weeks of age.
Route and site-5 drops of vaccine are given orally.
- PCV– PCV stands for Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine. It protects infants and young children against disease caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. It is given in select states.
When to give – The vaccine is given as two primary doses at 6 & 14 weeks of age followed by a booster dose at 9 months of age
Route and site- PCV is given as intramuscular (IM) injection in outer right upper thigh. It should be noted that pentavalent vaccine and PCV are given as two separate injections into opposite thighs.
- fIPV- fIPV stands for Fractional Inactivated Poliomylitis Vaccine. It is used to boost the protection against poliomylitis.
When to give- Two fractional doses of IVP are given intradermally at 6 and 14 weeks of age.
Route and site- It is given as intradermal injection at right upper arm.
- Measles/ MR vaccine-Measles vaccine is used to protect children from measles. In few states Measles and Rubella a combined vaccine is given to protect from Measles and Rubella infection.
When to given- First dose of Measles or MR vaccine is given at 9 completed months to12 months (vaccine can be given up to 5 years if not given at 9-12 months age) and second dose is given at 16-24 months.
Route and site – Measles Vaccine is given as subcutaneous injection in right upper arm.
- JE vaccine– JE stands for Japanese encephalitis vaccine. It gives protection against Japanese Encephalitis disease. JE vaccine is given in select districts endemic for JE.
When to given- JE vaccine is given in two doses first dose is given at 9 completed months-12 months of age and second dose at 16-24 months of age.
Route and site- It is given as subcutaneous injection.
- DPT booster-DPT is a combined vaccine; it protects children from Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis.
When to give -DPT vaccine is given at 16-24 months of age is called as DPT first booster and DPT 2nd booster is given at 5-6 years of age.
Route and site- DPT first booster is given as intramuscular injection in antero-lateral side of mid thigh in left leg. DPT second booster is given as intramuscular injection in left upper arm.
- TT- Tetanus toxoid vaccine is used to provide protection against tetanus.
When to give- Tetanus toxoid vaccine is given at 10 years and 15 years of age when previous injections of pentavalent vaccine and DPT vaccine are given at scheduled age.
Pregnant women-TT-1 is given early in pregnancy; and TT-2 is given 4 weeks after TT-1.TT booster is given when two doses of TT are given in a pregnancy in last three years.Route and site- TT is given as Intramuscular injection in upper arm.