Measles is spreading in London and many parts of the UK now. Children who get measles can be very ill. Some will suffer life changing complications.
Find out how measles could affect your child on the Healthier Together website.
How to protect your child from measles
The best way to protect your child is to make sure they are fully up to date with vaccinations.
The first dose of the MMR vaccine is given at 1 year old. The second dose is given at 3 years and 4 months.
There are two MMR vaccines available in England. The Priorix brand MMR vaccine does not contain pork gelatine and can be requested from your GP surgery.
How to get an MMR vaccination for your child
Children aged 1 year to 4 years old:
Contact your local GP to book an appointment for your child to have their vaccination. If you’re not registered with a GP, you can register online.
Children aged 4 years to 11 years old:
If your child has missed a vaccine, they may be offered a catch-up dose through their primary school in 2023.
The NHS will contact you to give you further detail of your local offer, answer any questions and arrange an appointment. You’ll then be sent a consent form to sign. Please note that your child will not be vaccinated without your consent.
If you believe your child is missing a vaccination and you don’t want to wait, you can also contact a local GP to book an appointment.
Effectiveness of the MMR vaccine
The MMR vaccine is very effective.
After 2 doses:
- around 99% of people will be protected against measles and rubella
- around 88% of people will be protected against mumps
People who are vaccinated against mumps, but still catch it, are less likely to have serious complications or be admitted to hospital.
Protection against measles, mumps and rubella starts to develop around 2 weeks after having the MMR vaccine.
Side effects of the MMR vaccine
The MMR vaccine is very safe. Most side effects are mild and do not last long, such as:
- the area where the needle goes in looking red, swollen and feeling sore for 2 to 3 days
- around 7 to 11 days after the injection, babies or young children may feel a bit unwell or develop a high temperature for about 2 or 3 days. Find out what to do if your baby has a high temperature after a vaccination.
Some children might also cry and be upset immediately after the injection. This is normal and they should feel better after a cuddle.
It’s important to remember that the possible complications of infectious conditions, such as measles, mumps and rubella, are much more serious.
Ingredients of the MMR vaccine
Gelatine is used as a stabiliser in some medicines and vaccines. In the UK, we have 2 MMR vaccines which work very well. One of them contains gelatine and the other one doesn’t. If you would prefer to have the vaccine that does not contains pork gelatine, talk to your practice nurse or GP.
MMR vaccine and autism
Many large studies have been carried out to find out if there is any link between MMR and autism. From these studies we know that there is no link and that the MMR vaccine is very safe.
Read more information and watch videos about the MMR vaccine and measles on the Vaccine Knowledge Project
If 95% of children receive the MMR vaccine, it’s possible to get rid of measles.
However, measles, mumps and rubella can quickly spread again if fewer than 90% of people are vaccinated.