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:

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.

Symptoms include:

  • 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:

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
  • meningitis 

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:

  • blindness
  • deafness
  • heart problems
  • brain damage

MMR vaccine

MMR vaccine protects your child against measles, mumps and rubella. They get the vaccine in two doses:

  • when they 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.

More useful links

Share this page


Your comments are anonymous and can’t be responded to - if you would like a reply, use the feedback form.

Your comments
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum. Don't include personal or financial information.