The MMR vaccine is the best way to protect babies against mumps, measles and rubella.
What vaccine is used?
The MMRVAXPRO and Priorix vaccines are routinely used in Scotland.
You can view the vaccine ingredients in the patient information leaflets:
MMRVAXPRO and Priorix are combined MMR vaccines, meaning the child is protected from measles, mumps and rubella as quickly and safely as possible.
To immunise against each of the 3 diseases separately would mean 6 injections over a longer period of time. The result would be:
- more risk of catching a disease
- more risk of missing a dose completely
- more risk of pain where the injections are given
- more distress for the child
Single vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella aren't available in the UK immunisation programme.
How effective is the MMR vaccine?
The World Health Organization states that MMR is a highly effective vaccine with an outstanding safety record. There are no countries that recommend vaccination with the 3 separate vaccines.
How many doses of the vaccine does a baby need?
A child will have the MMR vaccine in 2 doses:
- The first between 12 and 13 months
- The second at 3 years 4 months
Although normally given at these times, if it's missed, it can be given at any age.
The second dose of the MMR vaccine gives the best level of protection to the most number of children.
After the first dose, between 5% and 10% of children aren't protected against each of the diseases because their immune system hasn't responded to the vaccine. After 2 doses of MMR, less than 1% of children are left unprotected against measles.
To give the public the best protection, at least 95% of the population needs to be immunised against the viruses. Because of the children who don't respond to the first dose and those who don't attend for immunisation, this number can only be achieved with a second dose being given to every child.
Almost all children who didn't respond to the first dose will be protected against measles, mumps and rubella with a second dose.
How do we know the vaccine's safe?
Over 500 million doses of MMR have been used in over 90 countries around the world since the early 1970s.
All medicines (including vaccines) are tested for safety and effectiveness by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The vaccine meets the high safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries. The vaccine has been given to millions of people worldwide.
Once they're in use, the safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the MHRA.
Are there any reasons someone shouldn't have the MMR vaccine?
There are some serious medical conditions that mean not everyone can have the MMR vaccine. They shouldn't have MMR if they've had a severe reaction to MMR before, or:
- have significant immunosuppression
- have severe allergies to neomycin or kanamycin (types of antibiotic)
- are pregnant
Women should also avoid becoming pregnant for 1 month after having the MMR vaccine.
In some cases having the MMR vaccine should be put off until a later date. You or the child you care for should wait to have the MMR if you or they have a very high fever, or have had:
- another live vaccine (including BCG) in the last 4 weeks
- an injection of immunoglobulin (antibodies) in the last 3 months
The MMR vaccine will be offered even if you or the child receiving the vaccination has:
- asthma, eczema, hay fever, or most food intolerances
- a minor illness without a fever, like a cold
- been given antibiotics
- been using a cream or inhaler that contains steroids
- minor infections without fever
- an egg allergy