Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
The MMR vaccine protects your child against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). MMR has three separate vaccines in one injection. Your child should receive one dose of MMR just after their first birthday and a second dose when they are aged three years and four months old.
Recognising measles, mumps and rubella
Measles is a viral infection which is spread from person to person. Symptoms of measles include:
- a rash
- swollen glands
- red eyes
- loss of appetite
Symptoms can last up to 10 days in children and longer in adults. The infection can cause serious complications.
Mumps is caused by a virus. Symptoms for most people are:
- painful swollen glands in the face and neck
Symptoms last up to 10 days. The condition can also cause complications.
Rubella is a mild viral disease, also known as German measles.
- a rash
- swollen glands behind the ear and the back of the neck
Some adults also have painful joints. The infection is very serious in pregnancy.
Protecting children against measles, mumps and rubella
It is important to protect children against measles, mumps and rubella as these diseases can have serious complications.
Measles can cause:
- ear infections
- respiratory problems
In some cases, measles can cause death. In children aged under two years, one child in 8,000 will develop a fatal degenerative brain condition within eight years of getting measles.
Mumps can cause:
- deafness - usually with partial or complete recovery
- swollen, painful testicles in older boys and men
- miscarriage in pregnant women
Rubella can cause inflammation of the brain and can affect blood clotting. In pregnant women, it can cause miscarriage or major health problems for their babies such as:
- heart problems
- brain damage
MMR vaccine protects your child against measles, mumps and rubella. They get the vaccine in two doses:
- when they are around 13 months old
- before they start school
MMR vaccine and autism
Experts from around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), agree that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Single vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella
Separate vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella are not recommended. Single vaccines put children at risk while they wait between each vaccine. It also means that children need repeat injections and are more at risk of adverse reactions at the injection site.