MMR - get the facts

MMR facts

At around 13 months, your baby will be offered the MMR, the immunisation that protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Some parents have worries about this jab, so we round up the facts.

What does the MMR do?

It protects against three illnesses:

  • Measles, a serious illness with a rash and fevers
  • Mumps an illness which causes swelling around the jaws
  • Rubella also known as German measles, this illness brings a rash and sore throat. If a woman who is not immune to the disease catches it in the first 3 months of pregnancy, there is a risk that her baby will be born with birth defects.

When is it given?

The MMR is given around 13 months. Tell the practice nurse on the day if:

  • Your baby has a temperature/fever
  • Has had a bad reaction to a previous immunisation
  • Has any problems with bleeding
  • Has ever had a fit or convulsion
  • If any member of your family is taking medicines which affect the immune system, such as for cancer or following an organ transplant.
  • If any member of your family has an illness such as HIV or Aids that affects the immune system.

Are there any side effects?

Soon after the immunisation, your baby may:

  • Develop a fever
  • Go off his food.
  • Develop a rash on his body.

Your practice nurse might suggest giving paracetamol liquid or liquid ibuprofen to reduce your baby’s temperature and to soothe any pain. A medicine syringe (available from your pharmacist) is helpful in giving medicines to a baby. Do not give your baby aspirin! 

A very small percentage of children have had a fit after immunisation, but this is very rare.
To put this in perspective, a child who gets measles is 10 times more likely to have a fit as a result of the illness.

If your baby develops a very high temperature (over 39.4ºC/ 103ºF) or has a fit, consult your doctor at once. If the surgery is closed, go to your nearest A&E.

There is also a small risk of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) but this is very rare. The risk of your baby developing encephalitis after the MMR immunisation is no higher than the risk of your baby developing encephalitis without the vaccine.

But if your baby gets measles infection, then it is very likely that he will have some degree of inflammation of the brain and very occasionally this can result in permanent damage.
Follow your instincts. If you think your baby is having a severe reaction to the immunisation, seek medical advice.

Fears about MMR

Parents do worry about the risk of complications from the MMR. There has been widespread media coverage of a possible link between the combined MMR immunisation and autism.
This concern was raised in a publication in 1998, but since then there has been extensive research from all over the world which has shown no link between autism and MMR.

Countries that changed the combined injection to separate single immunisations have not found any decrease in the rate of autism. The combined immunisation is better at protecting your baby than using 3 single injections and most health professionals are convinced of the safety of MMR. They highlight the risks of the diseases that the jab is designed to protect your baby against and the complications:

  • Measles can lead to chest infections, fits and brain damage; before the vaccine was introduced, about 90 children in the UK died each year from measles.
  • Mumps can lead to viral meningitis, deafness and swelling of the testicles and ovaries.
  • Rubella seriously harms an unborn baby if a woman catches it for the first time during pregnancy.

Making your mind up

The chance of your baby having a complication from the MMR immunisation is tiny, but the risks from the diseases themselves are life-threatening. Remember, the vast majority of babies in Europe and the USA are given the MMR vaccination.

Egg allergy and vaccines

Some vaccines are produced using eggs but they remain safe even if your baby has had a reaction to eggs. However if you are concerned, or your baby has had a severe reaction to eggs, then discuss this with your doctor before your baby is immunised.


My son had MMR last week, he's 16 months old so we were a bit 'late'. Had the usual boosters as well at the same time. He's now not wanting cuddles at all, not looking anyone in the eye, doesn't like to be touched at all (not just where the needles went in). It isn't a reaction we have experienced ever before either after other vaccinations or as part of his normal behaviour. Any similar experiences out there?
I think before giving your child the vaccine look at the list of ingredients the jab contains. Also, my mother never gave us the vaccine, I had rubella, measles, whooping caugh and chicken pox as a young child and am very healthy now. Me and my brothers all had a homeopath as a paediatrician, and all those diseases were treated using this method. I am not pro vaccination but I'm not entirely against it. Antibiotics and vaccination are not the only solution to healthy recovery, and before jumping into injecting your child with all sorts of bad products ( both MMR and pertussis jab contains mercury and aluminium) do your research and see the alternatives.
Has anyone even thought about the possibility that autism cases might not have 'risen' since the introduction of the MMR vaccine? It may just be that this was not how it was diagnosed before? Take ADHD for example, this has risen in diagnosis in the last few years, only because it was just deemed to be 'hyperactivity' before!
I have read a lot of these posts and heard lots about mmr relating to autism. My 1yr old twins will both be having the combined jab. Only recently i heard about a woman who kicked up a real fuss about her son having the jab because she didnt want him 'getting' autism. So she didnt have him vaccinated, yet a year or whatever down the line it was confirmed he had autism anyway. Everyone has their own opinions and its up to the parents to decide weather or not they want to vaccinate their children and thats for all jabs. Not just the mmr
I have a 7year old daughter who had the mmr jab in one shot and she is fine... I've now got a baby boy due his jab in 1months time. I really don't think there is any difference between having them seperate or together in one. I can't beleive there are parents out there not giving any type of it at all and then slating all us other parents deciding to protect our children from these 3 potentially harmfull diseases. I think you have to take action and protect your children against everything. My daughter also has asthma and has the flu jab each year as if she doesn't have it she gets a lot of chest infections and ends up in hospital poorly. I would never deny my daughter this jab but on here I read bout parents denying their children life saving jabs....they might want to think long and hard bout what could happen without the jabs not read a load of misleading info and thinking bout their own beleifs
The children's immunisation clinic in Harley street will be getting the mumps vaccine back in early next year for anyone considering the single vaccines. My son had the rubella today & will have the measles vaccine in 6 weeks time the the mumps 6 weeks after that. 3 vaccines in 1 is a lot for a baby to cope with & drs are convinced this caused the problems with my colon which led to me having it removed. If you have doubts about the mmr you have options, give your child the single vaccines. Yes it's an expensive way of doing it but some things you can't put a price on. X
I'm confused! I do want my child immunised but would like to opt for separate jabs. The problem is, the clinics I have contacted will give separate jabs for measles & rubella but not mumps. Has anyone else opted for separate jabs & what happened with the mumps vaccination?
My son had his mmr at 13 months. 10 days later he developed a measles rash and was quite unwell. I'm sure that it didn't compare though to how Ill he could of been had he not had the jab and caught measles. I feel people that don't have their children vaccinated are putting other children at risk and not just their own. These vaccinations are made and given for a reason. I know a lot of you have said I've bought a book that says its bad. Well I've bought books about a wizard called Harry potter so does that mean that's true as well? There is no confirmed link between autism and the mmr. So needless to say my daughter will be having the mmr too.
I'd prefer for the jabs to be separate. Simply because I've had the MMR 4 times & still not immune to rubella. Also there was an out-break of mumps 5yrs ago (although all of them had had the jab twice as recommended)! I don't think the jab works as well as if it was separate
I'm just reading these commens as my darling boy is just reaching his 1st birthday, he is and has always been breastfed, eats like a trooper and is fit as a fiddle but, I will still do my upmost to make sure he is safe and healthy for his coming years. redinkasmum and Staceyface789 should be ashamed of themselves for even suggesting that its anything a loving mother does which may cause any of these conditions to happen to thier child. We all must do what we can as resposible parents to prevent not only our children but all children from contracting ANY illness which can be prevented, not only at home but around the globe ladies (the above mentioned), open your minds, do not force your small minded views on to your children and therefore put them, and other at risk. Rant over!!! V angry person xx
@MrsSpider36 I can empathise with your comments. I was shocked when I read that certain components of the vaccination were cultivated in aborted fetuses. I thought a lot about this and while I wouldn't say I am 100% pro-life/anti-abortion, I certainly am not very liberal in that respect. I don't believe in abortion unless there is a very strong medical or emotional reason (i.e. rape). What I would say though is that one way of looking at it is that these little fetuses (let's not get emotive and call them babies yet) are fulfilling a really important job in creating vaccines where there doesn't seem to be another way. These fetuses aren't being bred for the purpose of vaccine cultivation in the way that animals bred for animal testing are. They are however potentially saving other babies' lives instead of simply meeting what fate other aborted little lives do. I really hope I haven't offended you or anyone else here. I'm just trying to convey how I feel about it.
I am both a Health Professional (Health Visitor) and Mum - 2 boys aged 21 & 1. Both have been breast fed, are fed on good nutritious home made food - I have coeliac disease so have little choice but to cook from scratch. I also happen to have nursed children with infectious diseases, including my eldest son who had measles at 18 months when MMR was given later than it is now and so feel that I have the right to make an informed decision regarding my children's immunisation without being judged by another parent making sweeping and grossly inaccurate statements. It is important that each parent make an informed choice and not be swayed by narrow minded people who believe that their way is the only way either for or against immunisation. Fortunately for those parents who chose not to immunise, the majority of parents do make this choice and thus maintain "herd immunity" (the level of immunity within the general population required to prevent the spread of infectious diseases) thus children who are not immunised still benefit from the general immunisation level. It is worth noting that where herd immunity has fallen for specific infectious diseases as a result of poor uptake of immunisation, a corresponding increase in the number of cases of these infections has been identified, putting children and adults lives at risk. I would therefore urge each of you to undertake some reading, ask your Health Visitor or GP for evidence based information about each immunisation and make your decision from there, it is your right to make the choice without judgement but you should know what the potential consequences of your decision are, good and bad. Good luck everyone.
redinkasmum, I like your comment!
A friend of mine really stressed me out with worries about the MMR jab for my second child. My first had the jab with no problems, but there was this small fear in my head that began to really take hold. I did extensive research on all immunisations though, and my little boy received the MMR jab last week without incident. If you are confused or considering not immunising your children please be responsible, do your research and get the facts form reputable sources on the internet. With all due respect, someone's opinion or someone's aunt's or uncle's opinion is not science, it is just an opinion on a very emotional topic. Neither is searching for 'MMR' and 'autism' as your search will automatically return websites that link the two - you are biasing your results from the outset. And there are a lot of websites that are either trying to sell you something or are highly ideological (particularly from the American far right). Always check the individual or organisation that has posted the information. There are many reputable websites that will give you the facts on vaccine components and the risks involved. Because as with any medical intervention there are real risks. Getting pregnant itself was a risk though wasn't it? And what gets lost on anti-immunisation websites are the benefits of these vaccines and the diseases that they prevent. The World Health Organisation estimates that in 2008 there were still 164,000 deaths from measles worldwide. Sounds strange from where we sit, doesn't it? A useful site for vaccine components is https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2006/184/4/vaccine-components-and-constit... from Australia. With regard to religious concerns about some of the components both the Islamic Organisation for Medical Sciences (1995) and the Vatican are quite clear on the permissibility of the vaccines until alternatives become available. According to the Vatican, one should object to them morally, but "the burden of this important battle cannot and must not fall on innocent children and on the health situation of the population". Websites: http://www.immunize.org/concerns/porcine.pdf and (Muslim) http://www.immunize.org/concerns/vaticandocument.htm (Catholic). The History of Vaccines website from the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (USA) has a nice website on cultural perspectives as well as a lot of history on vaccines in general - http://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/cultural-perspectives-.... Their "misconceptions" page also discusses the common misconception of overloading the immune system with multiple vaccinations at once. Finally, the doctor who wrote the original report in the UK linking MMR and autism has been removed from the medical register for serious medical misconduct. He went so far as to take blood samples at birthday party, to pay the children 10 quid each and later to joke about their being compensated! A lot of people still consider this guy to be some kind of saviour/hero. While I come across as very pro-immunise here, there was a part of me was confused and even scared after reading through all the (mis)information that is out there. But it really makes me angry that there are people who capitalise on parents' fears to the extent of putting our children's health at risk both individually and publicly. Maybe you will come to a different conclusion than I have, but please, do your research!
My son had the MMR two days ago, along with his other booster jabs. He did brilliantly during the visit to the nurse and has had no reaction/symptoms at all from it so far. It is a vitally important immunisation and I would never have denied him having it in my wildest dreams!
Best,very useful.thanks. I change my baby nappy (pooh) after every hour,n this start after he had his mmr jab. And he cnt av his proper sleep,is that normal ?
Before anyone decides, please go to http://www.badscience.net/2007/07/the-mmr-story-that-wasnt/ or read Ben Goldacre's book. The risk of not giving your child the vaccine far outweighs the (unconfirmed) risk of having it.
I have decided not to give my son the MMR vaccine for a completely different reason - i'm not happy with the rubella vaccine which would therefore exclude his immunisation via the combined MMR vaccine. This is NOT due to the autism fears, as I believe that as far as I know the MMR is safe, but is purely on ethical reasons. The component viral strains of MMR vaccine were developed by propagation in animal and human cells as the live viruses require animal or human cells as a host for production of more virus. The Rubella component, Meruvax, is propagated using a human cell line (WI-38) derived from embryonic lung tissue. My moral issue with this vaccine is that this cell line was originally prepared from tissues of human aborted fetuses. I personally believe that any form of voluntary abortion of human foetuses is wrong, so I feel it would be a contradiction to allow the use of this vaccine of live attenuated viruses on my son. Why are we not made aware of this??! This would be a major issue for those that are pro-life... Claire.
My nearly 4 year old has severe autism, he was born with it you don't catch it! my daughters have both had the mmr (one last week) and they still don't have autism...
Research has been conducted in a number of EU countries and has found that the cases of autism in children has risen dramatically since the MMR was introduced-ie. autism was once 1 in 3500 before the MMR introduction now it is 1 in 70. Obviously research is an ongoing process but to me, the point is that parents should have a choice and having health visitors, nurses and midwives putting pressure on parents and implying that they are intentionally putting children at risk is disgusting. My child will not be having the jab as he can have it when he is older when the risk is smaller-whether that is when he is 5 or if he wants to have it as an adult-I did not have it until I had given birth at 23. Yes the diseases themselves are horrible but while there is medical/ scientific doubt into the safety of the vaccine I am not willing to put him at risk of autism either. The chances of getting autism are actually probably the same as his chances of getting measles, mumps or rubella. My brother and I both had mumps as children and we are both fine however my partner nearly died of chickenpox. At 6 months old my son and I had swine flu but we are now both fine. Any illness can kill it doesn't mean we all should be ordered or guilt tripped to receive vaccinations.
I will not be getting my second child vaccinated after my first developed Juvenille Arthritis soon after having his MMR. Any doctor I have asked about any unmentioned side effects like arthritis will not comment on it. It really is hard for parents to get all the facts, not just about autism(which I agree is the scariest word assocciated with MMR), but also the side effects that no one knows about. My son with arthritis had to have the chickenpox vaccine before going onto immune suppressing drugs and I was unusually given the paperwork to read and the list of side effects from that was immense (included arthritis!). Very hard decision for any parent to make but when your other children have had complications it makes it a little clearer.
My daughter has just turned 1 and already had the mmr with her 12 month booster jabs. i didn't think twice about getting as my aunt got german measles as a kid and ended up with sub acute sclorosing pan encephalitis. this made her severely disable and shortened her life. she died never experiencing many things we take for granted. i for one don't want this for my little girl. would you want to risk the same happening to your child?
Dear All, Here you can be well informed about immunisation and vaccines: www.informedparent.co.uk Did you know that the homeopathic way is as effective without the life threatening side effects of the vaccines? In the U.S. To go for the vaccines are left to your own responsibility already! (from the 22/02/2011) what do you think why? Love, A.
Everything you need to know about the immunisation vaccines here: www.informedparent.co.uk Please read the "Frequently Asked Questions", faq part! The homeopathic way is as effective without the life threatening side effects!!!
my son has just turned 1, and when i went to get him weighed the HV presumed I was there for jabs. when i explained that my partner had more concerns over the mmr vaccination than me she seemed to get cross! She then started saying that you need to care for your child and keep them healthy! So i asked about the single vaccinations she said i would need to go private and would cost atleast £200 to have them as single vaccinations. She also informed me that you dont have to have the immunisation at 12 month but can wait up until the child turns 2, i felt alittle at ease by this as I couldn't make my mind up, but after reading some of the comments below I didn't realise how many parent felt the same way that we do, and at this current time my son will not be having the MMR vaccination!!
Fact: after the MMR - Autism link was first brought to public attention (quite a while after it was published) - there was a dramatic increase in cases of the three diseases it protects against and NO decrease in cases of autism. All subsequent research has proven there is NO link. The drs responsible have been struck off the register because they were WRONG and being paid to come the conclusions they did. on an individual case basis some children will be fine without a vaccinations, many won't. Stats don't lie though - when the MMR was being villified, disease and death rates rose. Check out the FACTS i.e. the national statistics office records. There are always risks with any sort of vaccination but to imply some sort of government/Dept of health conspiracy to what - make people ill?! is laughable. they have to do the best they can to protect the greatest number of people. Anecdotal evidence is not evidence. one person can survive being hit by a car going 40mph, but hundreds don't - do you base speed limits on the one that survives or the hundreds that don't? They advise the MMR because it has the highest success rate. they have limited funds so can't offer every different vaccination going to everyone. if you base your decision on flawed research and ignore proven results (or risks - for instance your child is much more likely to die of measles if not vaccinated, than it is to have some form of extreme negative reaction to the vaccination) then you really need to think again. I agree with previous posters - do your research, but do the right research. Reading why someone else came to the decision not to vaccinate is not good research. read the stats, the medical facts and come to your own decision.
I've been reading your comments about the MMR vaccine and making a decision. It seems to me that people have a terrible time finding what they consider to be reliable information regarding the facts. What has to be said however is that there are not necessarily going to be hard and fast facts. Basing a judgement on published material is only as reliable as the quality of the research and the material you are reading. If you are basing a judgement on a book written with the sole purpose of convincing the reader that MMR vaccines are not necessary one can hardly be surprised when they come away believing such. The only way to make a more informed judgement is to go directly to the research journals and analyse the academic research directly. Don't listen to leaflets or websites that will usually be written with a particular objective in mind. Research can be biased too (obviously) but the different is, if the journal has any kind of integrity at all, you will be able to see the methodology of the research and make a judgement as to how reliable it was. It's the only way the I am intending to make any kind of judgement. Whilst I know Bounty have the best intentions, to provide useful information, I certainly don't expect them to be unbiased. A good starting point if you want to do some research is Google Scholar, which searches only academic work. Here are some links to a few articles I have read so far, not all of them are necessarily that credible though usually if the journal is peer-reviewed you can have some confidence in its credibility. http://www.bmj.com/content/322/7284/460.full http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/285/9/1183 http://adc.bmj.com/content/87/6/493.abstract http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2214.2006.00655.x/full http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(05)75696-8/fulltext Good luck.
MMR jab soesn't cause autism, the child would have developed autism anyway - the problem is that autism starts to show symptoms at around the age the MMR jab is given so people assume that the jab caused it. My son will definitely have all his jabs, my husband had mumps at 12 and they may have gone some way to explain his fertility issues so bad that we had to have IVF with ICSI. Even though he survived, it still had life long complications and I don't want my son to have to go through the same when he is older
when my sister and i were babies in the 70's, there was a scare about injections so my mum didn't have us immunised. her dr. said that if she thought she could care for us if we got sick then not to do it. i got mumps when i was 3 and both of us got measles and german measles with no long term damage. so i am confused like a lot of you are as the health visitor says i should get my baby immunised.
I am very confused about immunisations, my gut feeling is not to have my son immunised but there is still a worry in the back of my mind about him getting poorly if i dont, its a hard choice. At the end of the day, our parents and grandparents didnt have these jabs and i feel like the world is becoming a little obsessed with having them and there is a lot of scaremongering that comes with them. Pharmacuticals is a multi million pound business and there is a lot of pressure on doctors to get certain government targets met and i cant help but think that its more about meeting these targets than the complete wellbeing of the child. If i could honestly say i knew EXACTLY what kind of chemicals i was putting into my childs body then i might consider getting him jabbed. I think i might get one of these books that previous people have mentioned
My daughter had the MMR jab yesterday and so far she seems fine. I was in two minds about giving it to her but deep down it had to be done. There are so may foreigners coming over here you dont know what they are carrying, also when your children start nursery / pre-school they have to be up to date with there jabs, and nowadays the education system wont take kids on if they havent been immunised.
im sory to say this but at the end of the day my daught will be having the vaxhene as i would rather have a child thats alive end of
I had my son immunized a few days ago. Right up until the last minute I was in 2 minds about it, but I do believe he's better off with it than without. He has had a few side effects - gone off his food, got a very sore throat and lost his voice, and has developed a cold. I am assured these are all minor side effects of the rubella part of the vaccine. Even though it's awful to see him ill when he was healthy beforehand, I am still glad as to catch any of these illnesses would be loads worse and much more long lasting.
I also recommend parents do further reading with the books suggested below. Other books include 'Vaccinations, Yes or No' and 'Vaccination, A guide for Making Personal Choices'. I have found these books very useful and I am 100% confident with my decision not to vaccinate my son. He hasn't had any since birth, his development is excellent, brilliant eater, sleeper and is the picture of health. Parents, please please do your own research, ask questions and dont just go along with the masses.
SO when your child passes measles on to some other child you'll be conforted by teh fact he is a good sleeper! great
Hi there, there is not nearly enough information on the internet or on baby websites about the MMR and other vaccinations, you are lead to believe there is no problem with any of them, but i have purchased 2 great books that take a much needed deeper look at injecting infants with numerous dead or alive weakened viruses. I recommend parents read them to get a balanced perspective before making such an important decision, "What your doctor may NOT tell you about childrens vaccinations" and "The truth about vaccinations". Must reads!!
i agree with what is said in the books and wont b giving my child the vaccination!
I have bought 2 great books which i would highly reccom
All the above was great information and has helped me decide to go with the MMR jab. thanks x
I think everyone should listen to the health proffesionals of the present and not a silly man who wrote a paper of nonsense and is now never allowed to practice medicine again due to his incompetence. Do you think the nhs is going to give children something that effectively would cost them more money? I think not, I think people in general just love to speculate and make something out of nothing!!!! I will definatly be giving it to my daughter as, if she contracted measels snd in the worse case senario died, I would never be able to live with myself knowing something so simple could of stopped it.
I agree, I think if you don't have your child vaccinated against these life threatening diseases then you are risking your own child and others as the diseases will once again spread.
I think that the single MMR vaccine has a lot to do with costcutting. My daughter is due hers next month but because of the risks I am currently searching for somewhere that will do the three jabs seperately. A friend of my fiance's grandaughter developed autism after having the single MMR vaccination. I know the risks are small and it only happens to say one in 500,000 but I don't want my perfect little girl to be that one in 500,000. I feel it is important that she is immunised. I don't care how much it costs and I will even go abroad if I have to to get the three seperate vaccinations. I wish there was more choice and help offered on this matter in this country and you shouldn't be made to feel like a bad parent if you choose for your child not to have the single jab. When I told the nurse that I preferred three seperate jabs I was told; "you'll have to sort that out for yourself then!"
I believe we should have a choice to have the separate jabs if the parents want that option. I also belive the 3 together is alot for a child to take in one go. By not offering a choice the goverment/health officals are causing the risk of epidemics not the parents.
Thank you bounty for reminding me of this very important vaccination. I will call my GP centre on Monday to make a date for my baby's MMR vaccination. Yours sincerely Victoria
I don't find this factsheet very balanced. You say there are no proven problems with the MMR jab but don't say if there are any proven problems/complications by having the vaccinations separately. You say the combined MMR vaccination is better at protecting your baby but don't explain why. Is this just because the baby is vaccainated quicker? Obviously there are risks in taking longer to get your baby vaccinated with 3 separate injections but equally a baby is exposed to the same risks of mumps, measles and rubella before they reach 13 months.
i'm stressed about the MMR jab. A family member on my husbands side has 2 children who have autism. (They are both teenagers a boy and a girl) Ive been told (by the family)it was the MMR jab. what do i do????? shall we have the MMR jab in single immunisations?
Why do you need to tell the nurse if a member of your family is taking immune suppressent drugs before your child has the MMR jab?
I too am very aprehensive about the MMR as I have worked ith families whos children have autism and they too feel the MMR triggered the autism. I was hoping to have the jabs done privately in 3 single injections but this is no longer available from any private practise in this country due to insurance purposes I believe. The trouble is many of the first signs of autism appear around the 13month mark hence while some families may feel it is linked. I do feel that if my child has any autism in her system it will come out eventually, but its a hard decision and not helped by the varying opinions you find on the internet.
I have 3 young children, my 2 eldest have had the MMR and the youngest will be due to have hers in about a month. My second child is autistic, but I know that it was nothing to do with the injection he was showing signs when he was 6 months old. I am also going to take my youngest to have hers when she is old enough!