The association between BCG scars and self-reported chronic diseases: A cross-sectional observational study within an RCT of Danish health care workers

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Abstract

Introduction: The live-attenuated vaccines Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) and Vaccinia have been associated with beneficial non-specific effects. We assessed the prevalence of BCG and Vaccinia vaccine scars in a cohort of Danish health care workers and investigated the association between the presence of vaccine scars and self-reported chronic diseases. Methods: Cross-sectional study utilizing baseline data collected during 2020–2021 at enrollment in a BCG trial aiming to assess the effect of BCG vaccination on absenteeism and infectious disease morbidity during the SARS-COV-2 pandemic. In Denmark, Vaccinia was discontinued in 1977, and BCG was phased out in the early 1980s. We used logistic regression analysis (adjusted for sex, birth year, and smoking status) to estimate the association between scar status and chronic diseases, providing adjusted Odds Ratios (aORs) with 95 % Confidence Intervals, for participants born before 1977, and born from 1965 to 1976. Results: The cohort consisted of 1218 participants (206 males; 1012 females) with a median age of 47 years (Q1–Q3: 36–56). Among participants born 1965–1976 (n = 403), who experienced the phase-outs, having BCG and/or Vaccinia scar(s) vs. having no vaccine scars yielded an aOR of 0.51 (0.29–0.90) of self-reported chronic disease; an effect primarily driven by BCG. In the same birth cohort, having vaccine scar(s) was most strongly associated with a lower prevalence of chronic respiratory and allergic diseases; the aORs being 0.39 (0.16–0.97) and 0.39 (0.16–0.91), respectively. Conclusion: Having a BCG scar was associated with a lower prevalence of self-reported chronic disease.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftVaccine
Vol/bind42
Udgave nummer8
Sider (fra-til)1966-1972
ISSN0264-410X
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 19. mar. 2024

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