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Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)

The MMR vaccine is a safe and highly effective combined vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella. 

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Background

The MMR vaccine is a safe and highly effective combined vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). 

Measles, mumps and rubella are highly infectious diseases that can easily spread between people who are not vaccinated. These diseases can have serious, potentially fatal, medical complications, including meningitis (external site) encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and hearing loss. Rubella (German measles) can lead to complications in pregnancy that affect the unborn baby and can cause miscarriage. 

Getting vaccinated is important. The large number of people getting the MMR vaccine means that it is now rare for children in the UK to develop measles or rubella. However, outbreaks of measles and mumps have been seen in Wales in recent years.  

You can find more information on the vaccine and diseases at NHS 111 Wales - Vaccinations (external site).

 

Eligibility for the vaccine

Baby immunisations

MMR vaccination is routinely given free-of-charge by the NHS. 

The full course of MMR vaccination requires two doses

  • Dose One is given between 12 and 13 months 
  • Dose Two is given at three years four months 

The MMR vaccine can also be given on the NHS to older children, adults and babies over six months of age that need to be protected against measles, mumps and rubella and/or in the event of a measles outbreak. 

Teenagers and young adults

If you have not had two doses of the MMR vaccine, you are at risk of catching the diseases the vaccine protects against. If you have already had one dose you will only need one further dose, no matter how long ago you had your first dose. If you need two doses they can be given one month apart. Contact your GP surgery as soon as possible to catch up on any missed MMR vaccinations.  

Adults

Anyone born after 1970, including those moving into the UK, who has not had two doses of the MMR vaccine should arrange to have it at their GP surgery.  

Women planning pregnancy

Rubella (German measles) is very rare, but can be serious in pregnancy. If you are planning to have a baby you should have had two doses of the MMR vaccine. As it is a live vaccine, you cannot have it when you are pregnant and you should avoid getting pregnant for one month after having the MMR vaccination.  

If you have not had two doses, contact your GP surgery as soon as possible to catch up on any missed MMR vaccinations. 

If you are pregnant or have just had a baby and are not sure if you have had two doses of the MMR vaccine, speak to your midwife or GP at your next appointment. 

For more information go to NHS 111 Wales - Rubella (external site).

Missed vaccinations

It is important to catch up on any missed vaccines. You can ask your GP surgery for the MMR vaccine if you or your child has missed either of the two doses. 

If the MMR vaccine is missed, it can still be given at any age. If you are unsure if you have had two doses of the vaccine as a child, you can contact your GP, who can check your records and arrange for a catch-up vaccination if needed. 

Travel

Anyone who is travelling to an area that is known to have had outbreaks of measles, mumps or rubella should receive the MMR vaccine before they travel. This only applies if they have not received two doses of the MMR vaccine previously. 

More information about vaccines required for travelling can be found at NHS 111 Wales - Travel vaccinations (external site).

Occupational vaccinations

Protection of healthcare workers is especially important, as they may be able to transmit measles, mumps or rubella infections to vulnerable groups. While they may need MMR vaccination for their own benefit, they should also be immune to measles, mumps and rubella for the protection of their patients. 

 

About the MMR vaccine

The MMR vaccine contains weakened versions of live measles, mumps and rubella viruses. It is given as a single injection into the muscle of the thigh or upper arm. 

The current MMR vaccines given in the UK are known under the brand names MMR VaxPro and Priorix. If you would like to learn more about these vaccines, you can read the patient leaflets:

Side effects of the MMR vaccine

Millions of doses of the MMR vaccine have been given worldwide for over 30 years. The vaccine has a very good safety record. The side effects of the MMR vaccine are usually mild. It is important to remember that they are milder than the potential complications of measles, mumps and rubella. 

For more information on common and rare side effects see:  

If you are concerned about symptoms call NHS 111 Wales (external site). Calls to NHS 111 Wales are free from landlines and mobile phones.

You can report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme. You can do this online at yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk or by calling the Yellow Card scheme hotline on 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).  

Further information

You can find answers to most frequently asked questions at NHS 111 Wales - MMR vaccine FAQs (external site).

 

Public information resources

Leaflets

 

To order copies of the leaflets, visit the Health Information Resources page.