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MMR vaccine FAQs

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

Yes, these vaccines can be given together.

The childhood vaccination schedule recommends that MMR is given at around 12 to 13 months of age, and at the same time as the Hib/Men C vaccine 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 the MMR vaccine is grown on chick cells, not the egg white or yolk.

But if you have any concerns, talk to your health visitor, practice nurse or doctor.

Find out more about the effects of egg and other vaccine ingredients

Can the MMR vaccination be given as 3 separate injections?

No, not on the NHS. The MMR vaccine consists of a combination of 3 individual vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella in a single shot.

The NHS does not recommend single measles, mumps or rubella vaccines, as there's no evidence to support their use or to suggest that they're safer than MMR.

Having single vaccines could also put your child at risk of catching measles, mumps or rubella in the time between the doses of each of the vaccines.

Some private clinics in the UK offer single vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella, but the NHS does not keep a list of them.

This is because clinics that 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 supports the use of single vaccines. 

Find out why single vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella are not available on the NHS

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

For full protection, 2 doses of MMR are recommended with a minimum interval of 4 weeks between them.

If you're not sure whether your daughter has had 1 or 2 doses of MMR, ask her GP surgery.

Or you can check her Red Book (if you still have it) as this should have all your daughter's vaccination history.

If there's any doubt whether your daughter has had the second dose of MMR, she should have another dose to ensure she's protected.

It's not harmful to have an additional dose of MMR where vaccination history is uncertain.

Your daughter is less likely to have side effects after a subsequent dose of MMR.

This is because if she has already made antibodies to a previous dose, these antibodies will neutralise the vaccine viruses in any further doses given.

Does the MMR jab contain thiomersal (mercury)?

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

Find out more about vaccine ingredients

My son is due for his MMR jab, but I'm concerned about the connection between autism and MMR. Could I put him at risk?

This really should not be a worry, as there's no evidence of any link between MMR and autism.

Find out more about the safety of the MMR vaccine

Our son was born 6 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're born prematurely.

Read more about vaccines for premature babies in this rundown of the top 10 questions that parents have about baby vaccinations.

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

Almost certainly, yes. Evidence from clinical trials suggests that there will be no harm to your baby. 

But it's worth mentioning this to your midwife or GP at the earliest possible opportunity, just to be on the safe side.

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

Yes, your child can still have the MMR vaccine on the NHS if they have already had single vaccines privately.

Be aware, though, that MMR is a "live" vaccine, so the 2 doses should be given at least 4 weeks apart.

If your child has received a "live" single vaccine, they'll have to wait at least 4 weeks until they can have the MMR vaccine.

Find out more about the difference between "live" and "killed" vaccines

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 had 2 doses of MMR before they arrive.

This is because there have been outbreaks of mumps among unprotected students.

The mumps vaccine is only available on the NHS as the MMR vaccine.

If your son did not have MMR as a child or only had 1 dose, he should make an appointment at his GP surgery to have MMR vaccination.

To ensure protection, 2 doses of MMR with at least 4 weeks between doses is recommended as not everyone responds to the first dose.

The second dose gives them another opportunity to make a good response to the vaccine.

Find out more about why teens need to be vaccinated against mumps

If my child develops a mild case of measles after 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 confirmed at the age of 6 weeks. Can I get the vaccine without the measles component?

No, the MMR vaccine is not available without the measles component. But a confirmed measles infection is not a contraindication to MMR vaccine.

Any measles antibodies your baby made after their measles infection will neutralise the measles vaccine virus in the MMR vaccine.

This will not affect their response to the mumps and rubella parts of the MMR.

Having the vaccine will make sure they're protected against these 2 infections.

We're going travelling and my 14-month-old son is due to have his MMR jab 3 weeks before we leave. Will he have developed immunity in time?

Immunity to measles, mumps and rubella starts to develop after 2 weeks, so having his MMR 3 weeks before travelling is fine.

It's also fine for him to have his other travel vaccines on the same day as the MMR.

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

There's no reason why your child 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. After 2 doses of MMR, virtually everyone (more than 99%) will be protected against measles and rubella.

Protection against mumps after 2 doses of MMR is a little lower (90 to 95%) and appears to gradually decline over several years.

But mumps in vaccinated people is much less likely to lead to complications such as meningitis or painful swelling of the testes (orchitis), and vaccinated people are less likely to require admission to hospital.

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

You need 2 doses of the mumps vaccine to be best protected. The mumps vaccine is only available on the NHS as a component of the MMR vaccine.

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, or combined measles-rubella vaccines.

This led to a large epidemic of mumps among this age group in 2004-05. Since then, we have continued to see smaller outbreaks of mumps in universities and colleges every 3 to 4 years.

During these outbreaks, the highest risk is to completely unvaccinated students, but milder cases have also occurred in students who have had 1 or 2 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 have never had the MMR vaccine, you should have 1 dose now and another 1 month later.

Find out more about teens and mumps

My child had 1 dose of MMR and still caught measles. Why did the vaccine not work?

Up to 1 in 10 children with measles received a single dose of vaccination. This is to be expected, as a single dose of MMR vaccine protects only 9 in 10 children.

That's why children need a second dose. After a second dose, 9 in 10 of those who did not 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 the children who did not respond to the first dose are protected with the second more quickly.

Find out what to do in a measles outbreak

Page last reviewed: 13 July 2018
Next review due: 13 July 2021