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Letter to Doctors on
Cessation of BCG Re-vaccination Programme for Primary School Children

16 August 2000

Dear Doctor

BCG vaccine is a widely used vaccine for the protection against tuberculosis. In Hong Kong, it has been given to two main groups of individuals:

  1. Newborn babies: Newborn babies are given the vaccine within the first few days of birth. Each year, over 99% of babies receive the vaccine at birth in Hong Kong.
  2. Primary school children: A tuberculin test (TT) is done first. If the reaction is negative, BCG re-vaccination is given.

With the advance in medicine and the availability of more scientific evidence, it has been noted that the first dose of BCG vaccination in children is useful. However, a second or repeat BCG vaccination does not give additional protection against tuberculosis.

In line with the recommendations by the World Health Organization and the local Advisory Committee on Immunization (ACI), the Department of Health has decided to revise the BCG vaccination programme in Hong Kong as follows:

  • The BCG vaccination programme for newborn babies is continued.
  • For children aged under 15 residing in Hong Kong and not given BCG vaccination before, direct BCG vaccination is recommended and prior TT is not required.
  • For persons who have received BCG vaccination previously, repeat vaccination is not recommended.

Taking on board the recommendations of the ACI, starting from the school year 2000/01, the BCG re-vaccination programme for primary school children will be discontinued. The Department of Health will continue to offer BCG vaccination for those children under 15 who have never received the vaccine before.

The Department will inform the principals of all primary schools in Hong Kong of the revised immunization programme. In addition, parents will also be informed through the schools.

Lastly, as the local tuberculosis incidence is still high, vigilant control of tuberculosis needs to be maintained through sustained effort in a wide spectrum of measures. In this regard, your continual support would be much appreciated.

If you have any comments or queries, please feel free to contact the undersigned.

    Yours sincerely,

(Dr. CM Tam)
for Director of Health