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MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine

View original article on NHS Choices

The MMR vaccine is a safe and effective combined vaccine.

It protects against 3 serious illnesses:

These highly infectious conditions can easily spread between unvaccinated people.

Getting vaccinated is important, as these conditions can also lead to serious problems including meningitis, hearing loss and problems during pregnancy.

2 doses of the MMR vaccine provide the best protection against measles, mumps and rubella.

If you have any questions about vaccinations, you can:

Common questions

How do I check if I've had both doses of the MMR vaccine?Can I have the MMR vaccine if I'm pregnant?Can I have the MMR vaccine if I have a weakened immune system?

Speak to your GP surgery if:

  • you think you or your child has missed any vaccinations
  • you need to change a vaccination appointment
  • at any age, you're not sure if you or your child has had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine

Your GP surgery can book or rearrange an appointment.

It's best to have vaccines on time, but you can still catch up on most vaccines if you miss them.

How the MMR vaccine is given

The MMR vaccine is given as 2 doses of a single injection into the muscle of the thigh or upper arm.

2 doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure full protection.

Can my child have single measles, mumps or rubella vaccines?

How effective is the MMR vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is very effective. After 2 doses:

  • around 99% of people will be protected against measles and rubella
  • around 88% of people will be protected against mumps

People who are vaccinated against mumps, but still catch it, are less likely to have serious complications or be admitted to hospital.

Protection against measles, mumps and rubella starts to develop around 2 weeks after having the MMR vaccine.

Side effects of the MMR vaccine

The MMR vaccine is very safe. Most side effects are mild and do not last long, such as:

  • the area where the needle goes in looking red, swollen and feeling sore for 2 to 3 days
  • around 7 to 11 days after the injection, babies or young children may feel a bit unwell or develop a high temperature for about 2 or 3 days

Some children might also cry and be upset immediately after the injection. This is normal and they should feel better after a cuddle.

It's important to remember that the possible complications of infectious diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella are much more serious.

When children should have the MMR vaccine

The MMR vaccine is given to babies and young children as part of the NHS vaccination schedule:

For more advice on what to expect after vaccinations and how to treat common side effects, read vaccination tips for parents.

The MMR vaccine is not linked to autism

There is no evidence of any link between the MMR vaccine and autism. There are many studies that have investigated this.

You can read a list of MMR studies and their findings on the Oxford University Vaccine Knowledge Project website.

MMR vaccine ingredients

There are 2 different brands of MMR vaccine available in the UK. These are called Priorix and MMRVaxPro.

The main ingredient of the MMR vaccine is a small amount of weakened measles, mumps and rubella viruses.

The MMR vaccine does not contain mercury (thiomersal).

MMRVaxPro contains porcine gelatine to ensure the vaccine remains safe and effective during storage. You can read or download a leaflet about vaccines and porcine gelatine on the GOV.UK website, including leaflets translated into Arabic, Bengali and Urdu.

You can find a full list of ingredients in these patient information leaflets:

Read more about why vaccines are safe and important, including how they work and what they contain.

On GOV.UK, you can read or download leaflets about:

MMR vaccine schedule

Child's age Vaccine
1 year MMR (1st dose)
3 years and 4 months MMR (2nd dose)

Missed vaccines

It's important to catch up on any missed vaccines.

You can still ask your GP surgery for the MMR vaccine if your child has missed either of these 2 doses.

Common questions

Why are babies given the MMR vaccine at 1 year, plus 3 years and 4 months?Is the MMR vaccine ever given to babies earlier?How will I know when my child is due for a vaccine?

When older children and adults should have the MMR vaccine

Anyone who has not had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine should ask their GP surgery for a vaccination appointment.

It's important to check if you've had both doses if you:

  • are about to start college or university
  • are going to travel abroad
  • are planning a pregnancy
  • are a frontline health or social care worker
  • were born between 1970 and 1979, as you may have only been vaccinated against measles
  • were born between 1980 and 1990, as you may not be protected against mumps

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