Vaccinations

MMR: frequently asked questions

Can my child have the Hib/MenC jab together with the MMR and pneumococcal jabs?

My child is allergic to eggs. Can she have the MMR vaccination?

Can the MMR vaccination be given as three separate injections?

I don't know if my teenage daughter has had her second MMR jab. What should I do?

Does the MMR jab contain thiomersal (mercury)?

My child is due for his MMR jab but I am concerned about the connection between autism and MMR. Could it put him at risk?

Our son was born six weeks prematurely. Should we delay getting him vaccinated?

A month after I got vaccinated for MMR, I found out I was pregnant. Will my baby be ok?

Can I have single vaccines on the NHS? If not, where can I buy them?

Can my child have the MMR vaccine if they have already had single vaccines?

My son is 18 and has been asked to have a second MMR jab before university. Is this sensible?

If my child develops a mild case of measles after receiving their first MMR vaccine, are they contagious to non-vaccinated children?

My baby had measles at the age of six weeks. Can I get the vaccine without the measles component?

We are due to go travelling and my 14-month-old son is due to have his MMR jab three weeks before we go. Will he have developed immunity before we go? And can he have travel vaccines at the same time as the MMR?

My child is receiving their MMR jab tomorrow. How long should I leave it before taking them swimming?

How long does protection from MMR last?

I have heard that mumps is going around. I thought that MMR prevented mumps, so why is this happening?

My child had one dose of MMR but still got measles. Why didn't the vaccine work? 

Should MMR vaccination be speeded up when there's a measles outbreak? 

Can my child have the Hib/MenC jab with the MMR and pneumococcal jabs?

Yes, it's perfectly safe for these vaccines to be given together.

The recommended childhood vaccination schedule indicates that MMR is given at around 12 to 13 months of age at the same time as Hib/Men C and the pneumo jab.

My child is allergic to eggs. Can she have the MMR vaccination?

Yes, the MMR vaccine can be safely given to children who have a severe allergy to egg. This is because MMR vaccine is grown on chick cells, not the egg white or yolk. If you have any concerns, talk to your health visitor, practice nurse or doctor.

Can the MMR vaccination be given as three separate injections?

Measles, mumps and rubella vaccines are not available as single vaccines on the NHS.

I don't know if my teenage daughter has had her second MMR jab. What should I do?

It's important that she has the MMR jab now. Your GP can arrange this. If you're not sure whether she has ever had the MMR jab, she should have one dose now and make an appointment to have a second dose in three months' time. An extra MMR dose will not cause any harm.

Does the MMR jab contain thiomersal?

No, the MMR vaccine has never contained thiomersal - a preservative containing mercury that is used in some vaccines.

My son is due for his MMR jab but I am concerned about the connection between autism and MMR.

There is no evidence of any link between MMR and autism, so you should not worry. Your son should have his MMR jab to protect him against measles, mumps and rubella.

Our son was born six weeks prematurely. Should we delay getting him vaccinated?

No. Babies should receive their vaccinations according to the recommended schedule at around 12 to 13 months of age, irrespective of whether they are born prematurely.

A month after I got vaccinated for MMR, I found out I was pregnant. Will my baby be ok?

Evidence from clinical trials suggests that there will be no harm to your baby. However, you should discuss this with your midwife or GP at the earliest possible opportunity to be further reassured.

Can I have single vaccines on the NHS? If not, where can I buy them?

Measles, mumps and rubella vaccines are not available separately on the NHS.

The NHS does not recommend single measles, mumps or rubella vaccines because there is no evidence to support the use of single vaccines or to suggest that they are "safer" than MMR. Having single vaccines puts your child at risk of catching measles, mumps or rubella in the time inbetween the vaccines.

The NHS does not keep a list of private clinics that provide single vaccines. Clinics that do offer these privately are unlicensed, which means there are no checks on their safety and effectiveness.

No country in the world recommends MMR and then offers parents a choice of having single vaccines instead. Every independent expert group around the world (including the World Health Organization) supports the use of MMR, and none support the use of single vaccines.  

Can my child have the MMR vaccine if they have already had single vaccines?

Unless there is reliable evidence that your child has been fully vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella, they will still need to have the MMR vaccine, even if they have had a single vaccine as well.

Live vaccines, such as the MMR vaccine, should be given at least four weeks apart. If your child has received a live single vaccine, they will have to wait at least four weeks until they can have the MMR vaccine.

My son is 18 and has been asked to have a second MMR jab before university. Is this sensible?

Many universities recommend that their students have MMR because there have been outbreaks of mumps among students.

To ensure he is fully protected against mumps, he needs to have had two doses of MMR. Even if he has already had two doses of a measles vaccine, having a third dose to make sure he is protected against mumps will not cause any harm.    

If my child develops a mild case of measles after receiving their first MMR vaccine, are they contagious to non-vaccinated children?

No. Post-vaccination symptoms are not infectious, so your child will not pass anything on to non-vaccinated children.  

My baby had measles at the age of six weeks. Can I get the vaccine without the measles component?

Although your baby had measles at six weeks, it is still advised that they have the MMR. This will help protect your baby against mumps and rubella and will also boost the antibodies your baby has already developed against measles.  

We're going travelling and my 14-month-old son is due to have his MMR jab three weeks before we go. Will he have developed immnunity in time?

Immunity to measles, mumps and rubella starts to develop after two weeks, so having his MMR three weeks before travelling is fine. It is also fine for him to have his other travel vaccines on the same day as the MMR.   

My daughter is receiving her MMR jab tomorrow. How long should I leave it before taking her swimming?

There is no reason why your daughter cannot resume normal activities, including swimming, straight after receiving their MMR jab.   

How long does protection from MMR last?

It seems to be very long lasting.

Virtually everyone (more than 99%) will be protected against measles and rubella for more than 20 years after two doses of MMR.

Protection against mumps after two doses of MMR is a little lower (90-95%) and appears to gradually decline. Mumps in vaccinated people is, however, much less likely to lead to complications such as meningitis or orchitis (painful swelling of the testes) and vaccinated people are less likely to require admission to hospital.      

I have heard that mumps is going around. I thought that MMR prevented mumps, so why is this happening?

You need two doses of MMR to be best protected against mumps.

MMR was introduced in 1988, with a second dose introduced in 1996, so many young adults may have had only single vaccines of measles and rubella and/or combined measles-rubella vaccines. This led to a large epidemic of mumps among this age group in 2004/2005.

Since then, we've continued to see smaller outbreaks of mumps in universities and colleges every three to four years.

During these outbreaks, the highest risk is to completely unvaccinated students but milder cases have also occurred in students who have had one or two doses of MMR. So, it's likely that some vaccinated students can catch mumps and pass the infection on to their close contacts without even knowing it.

If you've never had the MMR vaccine, you should have one dose now and another one month later.

My child had one dose of MMR and still caught measles. Why didn't the vaccine work?

Up to one in 10 children with measles received only one dose of vaccination. This is to be expected as a single dose of MMR vaccine protects only nine in 10 children. That's why children need a second dose. After a second dose, nine in 10 of those who didn't respond to the first dose will be protected – so the second dose boosts protection to almost 100%.

Should MMR vaccination be speeded up when there's a measles outbreak?

To get the best protection children should be vaccinated with the MMR vaccine at the scheduled times - between 12 and 13 months of age and again at 3 years 4 months. In areas where there are measles outbreaks, the gap between doses can be reduced so that the children who didn't respond to the first dose are protected with the second more quickly.

 

 

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Vaccinations: part 1

Watch part one of the vaccination series to find out why not being vaccinated, due to worry about side effects, means serious illnesses can become more common.

Media last reviewed: 20/11/2013

Next review due: 20/11/2015

Vaccinations: part 2

Watch the second part of a series about immunisation to find out why it's important to stay up to date with your vaccinations.

Media last reviewed: 20/11/2013

Next review due: 20/11/2015

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