The BCG vaccine's ability to prevent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection (MTI) remains highly debated. In Greenland, BCG vaccination was introduced in 1955, but was temporarily discontinued (1991-1996) due to nationwide policy changes. The study aimed to use the transient stop in BCG vaccination to evaluate the effect of vaccination on MTI prevalence and TB incidence.
MTI study: A cross-sectional study (2012), comprising East Greenlanders born during 1982-2006, evaluated the effect of BCG vaccination on MTI prevalence; a positive interferon ? release assay defined an MTI case. Associations were estimated using logistic regression. TB study: a cohort study covering the same birth cohorts with follow-up until 2012 evaluated the vaccine's effect on TB incidence. A personal identifier allowed for follow-up in the TB notification system. Associations were estimated using Cox regression.
MTI study: Included 953 participants; 81% were BCG-vaccinated; 29% had MTI, 23% among vaccinated and 57% among non-vaccinated. BCG vaccination reduced the odds of MTI, OR 0.52 (95% CI 0.32 to 0.85), p=0.01. Vaccine effectiveness against MTI was 20%. TB study: Included 1697 participants followed for 21,148 person-years. 6% were notified with TB, 4% among vaccinated and 11% among non-vaccinated. BCG vaccination reduced the risk of TB, HR 0.50 (95% CI 0.26 to 0.95), p=0.03, yielding a vaccine effectiveness of 50%.
BCG vaccination was effective in reducing both MTI and TB disease among children and young adults in a TB high-endemic setting in Greenland.