The MMR vaccine, protecting against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, is often associated with childhood immunisation. However, we understand, that some people aged 17 to 30 have often missed their vaccinations as children.
This age group is often involved in environments like universities or international travel, and this increases their exposure risks. Therefore, understanding the MMR vaccine, and ensuring they are vaccinated, is vital for young adults in the UK.
This comprehensive guide is designed to inform you about the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine, its importance, and how you can take action to protect yourself and those around you.
What is Measles, Mumps, and Rubella?
- Extremely contagious virus, 90% of unvaccinated people who come into contact with an infected person will catch the disease. Spread through coughing and sneezing. Can linger in the air for up to two hours.
- It can cause severe health complications like pneumonia, encephalitis (brain swelling), and in rare cases, death.
- Symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, red and watery eyes, and a distinctive red rash.
- Mumps spreads through infected saliva, sharing items, or other close contact. The risk of spreading the virus increases the longer and the closer the contact a person has with someone who has mumps.
- Symptoms include swollen and puffy cheeks, swollen jaw, fever, headache, loss of appetite, muscle aches, and fatigue.
- Can lead to inflammation of the testicles in males, inflammation of the ovaries in females, and viral meningitis in some cases. Mumps can also lead to more serious issues such as infertility, pancreatitis and hearing loss.
- Also known as German measles, it’s usually milder but poses a significant risk to pregnant women and their unborn babies.
- It spreads through airborne droplets from the noses or throats of infected people.
- Symptoms include mild fever, sore throat, rash that starts on the face and spreads, swollen lymph nodes.
- Complications are severe in pregnant women, especially in the first trimester; as it can lead to miscarriages, stillbirths, and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). CRS can result in deafness, cataracts, heart defects, intellectual disabilities, and liver or spleen damage.
Background information on the MMR vaccination
The MMR vaccine uses weakened strains of the three viruses to stimulate an immune response without causing the diseases.
Two doses of the vaccine are required for maximum immunity: the first dose provides significant protection, while the second dose ensures long-term immunity.
After two doses, the vaccine is about 97% effective against measles and rubella, and 88% against mumps. Immunity is generally long-lasting, often lifelong.
Side effects, if any, are usually minor and temporary, like a sore arm, fever, or mild rash. It is a highly effective, extensively researched and safe vaccine. It is continuously monitored for safety. The MMR vaccine has been in use for over 50 years as it was first licensed in 1971, with hundreds of millions of doses safely administered worldwide. It is endorsed and used by health organisations worldwide, including the NHS in the UK and the CDC and WHO globally.
Checking and updating your vaccination status
We recommend that you check your vaccination history to ensure you’ve been vaccinated. Children should receive their first dose of MMR vaccination when they are one year old and the second dose at 3 years and 4 months.
If you or your child missed one or both doses, it isn’t too late to catch up, even in adulthood.
In the first instance, it’s best to speak to your parent or guardian to find out if you have been vaccinated. Alternatively, you can check your vaccination in your childhood medical book (also known as the red book).
You can also contact your GP surgery and find out your vaccination status through them.
If you’re still unsure about your vaccination status, it is safe and recommended that you get the MMR vaccine.
How to get vaccinated
As an adult you can get the MMR vaccine at any age with the two doses given one month apart.
If you have not been vaccinated for MMR, or are unsure about your status, please contact your GP practice to arrange your vaccination. You can find the details of your GP practice via the NHS GP finder.
We will also be running vaccination clinics at Falmouth University and Truro College. Details of the clinics will be published on our website.