What to expect following BCG vaccination
Recruitment ended in March 2021 for this multi-centre randomised controlled clinical trial of the BCG vaccine against COVID-19.
Half of healthcare workers received the BCG vaccine to test whether it can protect those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 from developing severe symptoms by boosting their frontline immunity. The below information was provided at recruitment:
What to expect following the BCG vaccination
- The BCG vaccination is given just under the skin (into the ‘intradermal’ layer) of the left upper arm
- The usual expected reaction to BCG vaccination is redness and/or a small ‘papule’ (a pimple or lump) at the injection site that appears weeks to months after vaccination
- A few weeks later, the papule usually softens and breaks down to a small ulcer (an open sore - usually less than 15 mm in diameter)
- The ulcer may last from weeks to months
- Once the ulcer has healed, this usually (but not always) leaves a small flat scar
Care of the injection site
- Keep the area clean and dry
- Normal bathing is acceptable – pat dry after washing
- A temporary dry dressing with gauze may be used if the area starts to ooze
- A sterile alcohol swab may be used to clean the area if required
- Do not apply ointment, antiseptic creams, sticking plaster or band aids
- Do not attempt to squeeze any pus out of the papule or ulcer that develops
Rare complications following BCG vaccine
- A large abscess (collection of pus) at the injection site
- Infection of the glands in the left armpit (‘axillary lymph nodes’) causing tenderness and swelling under the arm ‘Keloid’ scarring (very noticeable scarring on the skin)
- Severe immediate allergic reaction (very rare), please stay on the hospital grounds for the next 20mins
When to seek medical advice
- If you notice any severe or rare reactions, such as a large persistent discharging abscess at the injection site
- If you notice swelling or tenderness of the glands (‘lymph nodes’) in the left armpit
Who to contact for advice
- BRACE team
- Tel: 0409 846 988
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Your General Practitioner
How to take the best picture of your vaccination site
- Attach a standard-sized object to your upper arm (e.g. coin, or beer bottle cap) using rolled up sticky tape or BluTack, adjacent to the vaccination site.
- You can also place a ruler or a measuring tape adjacent to the vaccination site.
- Hold your phone approx. 15 cm away from the area being photographed.
- Ensure the entire injection site and coin are in the photo and in focus.
Here is an example: