BCG vaccines are the oldest vaccines in use today, but the protective effect of the vaccination is still controversial. The risk of contracting tuberculosis is low compared with the possible complications after this vaccination. In Austria the formerly used BCG vaccine was not available in the required amount and another vaccine was released by the drug authorities. This product, with a more virulent strain, was used between August and December 1990, and this increased the incidence of complications. Eighty four of 1950 vaccinated newborn babies developed severe suppurative lymphadenitis three to 28 weeks after the vaccination, and surgical treatment was found to be necessary. Isoniazid treatment did not prove to be successful when the lymph node exceeded a certain size. Culture was successful in 46% up to week 20; after 20 weeks no culture became positive. All cultured bacteria were isoniazid sensitive. The question of general vaccination is raised and several points were considered before we came to the conclusion that except for high risk groups a general vaccination programme for neonates is not justified in Western countries.
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