Factors influencing scar formation following Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination

Paola Villanueva, Nigel W. Crawford, Mariana Garcia Croda, Simone Collopy, Bruno Araújo Jardim, Tyane de Almeida Pinto Jardim, Laurens Manning, Michaela Lucas, Helen Marshall, Cristina Prat-Aymerich, Alice Sawka, Ketaki Sharma, Darren Troeman, Ushma Wadia, Adilia Warris, Nicholas Wood, Nicole L. Messina, Nigel Curtis, Laure F. Pittet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The prevalence of scar formation following Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination varies globally. The beneficial off-target effects of BCG are proposed to be stronger amongst children who develop a BCG scar. Within an international randomised trial (‘BCG vaccination to reduce the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in healthcare workers’; BRACE Trial), this nested prospective cohort study assessed the prevalence of and factors influencing scar formation, as well as participant perception of BCG scarring 12 months following vaccination. Amongst 3071 BCG-recipients, 2341 (76%) developed a BCG scar. Scar prevalence was lowest in Spain and highest in UK. Absence of post-injection wheal (OR 0.4, 95%CI 0.2–0.9), BCG revaccination (OR 1.7, 95%CI 1.3–2.0), female sex (OR 2.0, 95%CI 1.7–2.4), older age (OR 0.4, 95%CI 0.4–0.5) and study country (Brazil OR 1.6, 95%CI 1.3–2.0) influenced BCG scar prevalence. Of the 2341 participants with a BCG scar, 1806 (77%) did not mind having the scar. Participants more likely to not mind were those in Brazil, males and those with a prior BCG vaccination history. The majority (96%) did not regret having the vaccine. Both vaccination-related (amenable to optimisation) and individual-related factors affected BCG scar prevalence 12 months following BCG vaccination of adults, with implications for maximising the effectiveness of BCG vaccination.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15241
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


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