MMR Immunisation

A dose of MMR vaccine is usually given to children aged 12-15 months. A second dose is usually given as a 'pre-school booster'.

What does MMR mean?

MMR stands for measles, mumps and rubella. These are three different diseases which are caused by three different viruses. The vaccines used to immunise against measles, mumps and rubella are all combined into one injection - the MMR vaccine.

Even if you think your child has already had one of these diseases your child should still have MMR immunisation.

Timetable for MMR immunisation

Are there any side-effects?

Most children are perfectly well after having a dose of MMR vaccine. However,

Neither of these reactions is infectious or serious. You can give paracetamol mixture or ibuprofen if necessary to ease pain and fever. Serious reactions are very rare.

MMR, Autism and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Recently there has been speculation that the MMR vaccine may somehow cause autism or inflammatory bowel disease. Recent large studies have concluded that there is no evidence to link MMR immunisation to these conditions.

For further information on this issue see and

How serious are the illnesses prevented

This is a highly infectious illness caused by the measles virus. Beginning like a bad cold, the child then develops a fever and a rash. The child always feels miserable and may be unwell for a week or so with a bad cough and a high temperature. Complications occur in some cases.

Measles is much more serious than many people think. In fact, of all childhood infections, it is the one most likely to cause the complication of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), sometimes resulting in brain damage. It can also cause convulsions, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia, which can lead to long-term lung troubles. Each year a number of children die from measles. In developing countries it is a major cause of childhood death.

The infection typically causes inflammation and swelling of the parotid glands. It is usually a mild illness but complications occur in some cases such as pancreatitis, orchitis (inflammation of the testes) meningitis and encephalitis. Mumps may cause permanent deafness in one ear. Mumps is equally dangerous for boys and girls.

Rubella (German Measles)
This is usually a mild illness with a rash. However, if a pregnant women has rubella, the virus is likely to cause serious damage to the unborn child. The child is likely to be born with multiple defects (Congenital Rubella Syndrome). The aim of rubella immunisation is to eliminate the rubella virus from the community as much as possible. Since rubella vaccination was introduced in 1970 there has been a dramatic fall in the number of babies born with the Congenital Rubella Syndrome.

Further information

Information on immunisation from the NHS aimed at the general public -

Immunisation Against Infectious Disease (The Green Book) -
From the Department of Health. Aimed at health professionals but of interest to all.

Remember Rubella -
Information about rubella, congenital rubella syndrome, and immunisation against rubella.

© EMIS and PIP 2004   Updated February 2004   PRODIGY Validated