MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine FAQs

The MMR vaccine protects against 3 serious illnesses: measles, mumps and rubella.

We address some of the questions and concerns you may have about the MMR vaccination, so that you can feel assured that the vaccine offers a safe and effective way to protect your child from becoming seriously ill. 

What are “routine” childhood vaccinations?

Different vaccinations are given at different ages to protect your child from life-threatening infections. Childhood vaccinations prevent 2-3 million deaths worldwide every year. Vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella is free on the NHS as part of the National Vaccination Programme.

Search ‘NHS vaccines and when to have them’ or visit nhs.uk to check which ones apply to your child.

My child is unwell – should they still go for their vaccination?

Your child can still be vaccinated if they have a minor illness e.g. a cold without a high temperature.

If they have a high temperature, they should not be vaccinated. Make a new appointment for when they are better.

What if my child gets a fever after vaccination?

Fever can be expected after any vaccination. It is more common after the first two doses of the Meningococcal B (Men B) vaccination, which are given at 8 weeks and 16 weeks old. If your child does develop a fever, this normally peaks around six hours after the vaccination and should settle within two days.

If your child still has a fever 48 hours after the vaccination, or if you are concerned about their health at any time, call your GP or dial 111. If you need urgent medical help call 999 or go to your nearest A&E department.

What do I do if I have missed a routine vaccination?

If your child’s routine vaccinations have been delayed or missed you should contact your GP to arrange for them to be given as soon as possible.

Will my child's vaccinations “overwhelm” their immune system?

No – your baby’s immune system is designed to cope well with new bacteria and viruses. Children respond to vaccinations using only a tiny bit of their immune system.

If your child gets an infection immediately after they have been vaccinated, or if they had an infection but were not showing symptoms when they had their vaccination, their immune system will be able to fight the infection.

Will catching the disease make my child's immune system stronger than a vaccine?

When your child is infected with a bacteria or virus, their immune system learns to defend against that same infection in the future. However, some infections can cause serious illness.

Vaccinations provide long-lasting defence against infection by teaching your child’s immune system to fight a specific bacteria or virus, but do this without the potentially harmful effects of an infection.

Is the MMR linked with autism?

No. There is no link between the MMR and autism. MMR does not cause or increase the risk of your child developing autism. This has been shown in studies of hundreds of thousands of children.

Do vaccines contain porcine gelatine?

Gelatine is used in a very pure form as a stabiliser in some medicines and vaccines. Porcine gelatine is found in two of the vaccines routinely given to children: the MMR vaccine and the nasal influenza vaccine

An alternative MMR vaccine that does not contain porcine gelatine is available and is equally effective. You can contact your GP to discuss this.

For more information on the MMR vaccine, visit nhs.uk or click here to view this information on a PDF document.