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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 NHS vaccination schedule recommends that MMR is given at 1 year old (on or after the 1st birthday) and at the same time as the combined Hib/Men C vaccine, the pneumococcal vaccine and the MenB vaccine.

My child is allergic to eggs. Can they 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 a health visitor, practice nurse or doctor.

Find out more about egg and other vaccine ingredients on the Oxford University Vaccine Knowledge Project website.

Can the MMR vaccination be given as 3 separate injections?

Not on the NHS. The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella in 1 injection.

The NHS does not recommend single measles, mumps or rubella vaccines, as there's no evidence to support their use.

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 private vaccine providers.

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. 

No country recommends MMR and then offers parents a choice of having single vaccines instead.

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 2nd 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 2nd 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 mercury-based preservative.

Find out more about vaccine ingredients from the Oxford University Vaccine Knowledge Project website.

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?

A large number of studies show that there is no evidence at all of any link between MMR and autism.

Find out more about about the side effects of the MMR vaccine.

Our son was born 6 weeks prematurely. Should we delay getting him vaccinated?

Babies should receive their vaccinations according to the recommended schedule, at 1 year old (on or after the 1st birthday), irrespective of whether they were born prematurely.

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

In general, there are no safety concerns for either the mother or the baby when MMR vaccine is given in pregnancy. But it would be advisable to let your midwife or GP know and talk to them about it.

Read more about vaccines in pregnancy on the GOV.UK website.

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

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

They would need 2 doses of MMR vaccine 4 weeks apart.

If your child has recently received another "live" vaccine, such as the chickenpox or yellow fever vaccine, they may have to wait at least 4 weeks before they can have the MMR vaccine.

Find out more about the difference between "live" and "killed" vaccines on this page about why vaccination is safe and important.

My son is 18 and has been asked to have a 2nd 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 vaccine as a child or only had 1 dose, he should make an appointment at a GP surgery to have MMR vaccination and complete the 2-dose schedule.

To ensure protection, 2 doses of MMR vaccine with at least 4 weeks between doses is recommended.

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

If my child develops a rash after their 1st MMR vaccine, are they contagious to unvaccinated children?

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

My baby had measles confirmed at the age of 6 weeks. Can I get the vaccine without the measles component?

The MMR vaccine is not available without the measles component. But having had 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 2 doses of the MMR vaccine will make sure they're protected against measles, mumps and rubella.

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 your son should have some protection by the time he travels.

If travel vaccines are due at the same time as the MMR vaccine, check with your travel health adviser as, for example, a 4-week interval should be left between yellow fever and MMR vaccine.

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 vaccine, virtually everyone (more than 99%) will be protected against measles and rubella.

Protection against mumps after 2 doses of MMR is a little lower 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 2nd dose introduced in 1996, so many young adults may have had only single measles and rubella vaccines, or a single dose of a combined measles-rubella vaccine.

Many young adults have not had any mumps vaccine or may have had only 1 dose of MMR vaccine.

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 happened 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 4 weeks 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?

A single dose of MMR vaccine protects 9 in 10 children, so not all children are protected after a single dose of MMR.

That's why children need a 2nd dose. After a 2nd dose, those who did not respond to the 1st dose should be protected, so the 2nd dose boosts the number of children protected 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, at 1 year of age (on or after the 1st birthday) and again at 3 years 4 months.

In areas where there are measles outbreaks, it may be recommended that the gap between doses is reduced so the children who did not respond to the 1st dose are protected by the 2nd more quickly.

Find out what to do in a measles outbreak.

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