Before the BCG (TB) vaccine is given, a Heaf test is first administered, often using a stamper tool which makes many small skin punctures to test the immune response. The stamper I received my Heaf test from strongly resembles that pictured in the 5th slide in this presentation.

I'm familiar with how the BCG (TB) vaccine is typically administered with a regular hypodermic syringe injection.

However, when I received my BCG vaccination (at the age of 9) I distinctly remember receiving my vaccination using a the same stamping tool as well, except the cap was red and not yellow. I think I remember the nurse administering the vaccine saying it was an experimental delivery system, but this might be a false memory or corruption. I do not have a BCG scar and apparently I do have some level of TB resistance (according to the second Heaf test I took at the age of 14).

I could not find any information about the BCG vaccine itself being delivered by any kind of stamping tool and I'm curious what exactly happened, and why the stamper isn't used (is it ineffective? is it too expensive? is it not having a scar worth it?)

  • Hi, and welcome! Just clarifying: are you saying you had a strongly positive reaction? – anongoodnurse Jul 10 '15 at 5:59
  • @anongoodnurse I had a Grade 2 response to the Heaf test. – Dai Jul 10 '15 at 7:11
  • Very interesting! We don't vaccinate for TB in the US. We do test for reaction with a TB tine test, which looked a lot like your Heaf tester - a 5-pronged thing. Now we use an intradermal injection - a PPD - the results are more accurate, but the test is certainly more costly all around. – anongoodnurse Jul 10 '15 at 7:28

After some more google-research, I found this paper, published a couple of years after I received my BCG vaccination: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1745564/

The paper describes "multipuncture" as a method of delivering BCG as an alternative to the intradermal method, so apparently my memory was correct.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.