What is the MMR vaccine?
The MMR vaccine is a combined immunisation designed to prevent the onset of three diseases, measles, mumps and rubella. These are contagious diseases found around the world which can cause serious complications, so it’s important that unvaccinated travellers are fully protected. 2 doses of the vaccine are required, at least 28 days apart, before departure. The MMR jab is given as injections into a muscle in the upper arm or thigh.
What is measles?
Measles is one of the most contagious viral diseases, spread from person to person by coughs and sneezes.
Initial symptoms include fever, a runny nose, sneezing, a cough, red,m sore eyes and small greyish-white spots on the cheeks inside the mouth. A blotchy, red-brown rash appears a few days later, usually starting on the head or neck before spreading to the rest of the body.
Some people may experience complications including diarrhoea, ear infections, and pneumonia.
What are mumps?
Mumps is a contagious viral infection caused by Rubulavirus, which is present throughout the world. Symptoms include fever, joint pain, nausea, a dry mouth, loss of appetite, and swelling of the parotid glands on the sides of the face.
Common complications associated with mumps include swollen testicles or ovaries, pancreatitis and temporary hearing loss. In rarer cases it can lead to permanent deafness, viral meningitis (brain swelling), and infertility.
Mumps is spread by airborne particles which are released from the respiratory tract by sneezes and spread by touching objects and sharing utensils.
What is rubella?
Rubella, also known as German measles, is a viral disease that causes a spotty rash. It is spread from person to person usually by sneezing. Symptoms include fever, nasal congestion, sore throat, and a rash that usually lasts 3 days.
Rubella is very serious if a woman catches it in the early stages of her pregnancy and it can result in miscarriage. That’s why it is essential that women receive MMR immunisation before becoming pregnant.
Do I need a MMR vaccine?
Measles, mumps, and rubella are highly infectious conditions that can have serious or potentially fatal outcomes. Outbreaks are uncommon in the UK but it’s still important to keep your vaccinations up to date.
Travellers are exposed to the viruses that cause measles, mumps and rubella almost everywhere in the world, with the greatest risk in developing countries.
The NHS recommends that children receive two doses of the vaccine, the first at 12 months of age and the second 3 to 6 years later. For adults born after 1957, two doses of the MMR vaccine, at least 28 days apart, are also recommended. After receiving this series of jabs, protection against the three diseases is lifelong.
What are the side effects of the MMR vaccine?
Side effects are usually mild and far more mild than the potential effects of measles, mumps and rubella.
You may develop a mild, non-infectious form of measles or mumps, lasting around 2 days. In rare cases, a small rash of bruise-like spots may appear a few weeks after the injection, and there’s a small (1 in 1,000) chance of experiencing seizures (fits) 6 to 11 days after receiving the vaccination.
See your GP if you have this kind of rash, or if you are concerned about your child’s symptoms after receving the MMR vaccine.