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Badger vaccination

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Vaccination could help reduce the level of bovine TB in a badger population over time and potentially reduce the spread of the disease to cattle.

Bovine TB can affect all mammals, including badgers. Because of this, it is difficult to eliminate the disease from areas where cattle and badgers can infect each other. It is a complex disease and no one measure will lead to its eradication. To eradicate the disease in cattle, we have to deal with the infection in badgers too.

How badger vaccination works

An injectable badger vaccine, Badger BCG, became available in 2010. Research has demonstrated that vaccination of uninfected badgers can reduce the severity and progression of bovine TB in those badgers. The vaccine used for badgers, as with other vaccines, does not offer complete protection against infection. It is not necessary for all individuals to be immune for vaccination to deliver a benefit.

Vaccinating a proportion of a population stops a disease from spreading as there are fewer individuals who can be infected. This effect is known as ‘herd immunity’. An independent review of the scientific evidence base for methods to eradicate TB concluded that, over time, the vaccination of badgers should reduce the number of TB cattle herd breakdowns.

Oral badger vaccine

An oral badger vaccine could be a more practical way of vaccinating badgers against TB. The development of an oral vaccine is ongoing but there are technical and practical challenges to overcome. In the future we hope that it can be used to help reduce the level of disease in badger populations.

Badger vaccination in Wales

We established the IAA to tackle all sources of bovine TB infection in domestic and wild animal species. We have put extra measures in place with the aim of eradicating the disease in the local cattle population. The  badger vaccination project began in May 2012.  For more information please visit the Intensive Action Area pages.

We also established the Badger Vaccination Grant to support privately delivered badger vaccination projects in Wales. The applicants can receive up to 50% of the eligible costs. The 11 projects cover an area of over 20km2.

Private use of badger vaccine

The injectable vaccine for badgers is also available for privately funded use in Wales by accredited, certified and licensed individuals. For information on how to apply for licences please visit our Wildlife Licensing pages.