Immunise Australia Program
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Immunise Australia Program. Information Line 1800 671 811
Immunise Australia Program. Information Line 1800 671 811

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)

Information about MMR Vaccine funded under the Immunise Australia Program.

Measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) are all serious viral diseases which still occur in Australia. The combination measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine provides protection against all three diseases.

Children should be immunised with the MMR vaccine at 12 months of age. From 1 July 2013, children will receive their second dose of MMR-containing vaccine at 18 months of age. The second dose is given by way of a combined measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine.

If your child is aged over 18 months at 1 July 2013, they will receive the second dose at four years of age as the MMR vaccine, as per the previous National Immunisation Program (NIP) schedule. This schedule point will remain until 31 December 2015.

MMR is also recommended for all children and adults born since 1966 who have not received two doses of MMR vaccine.

Women should be screened for rubella antibodies when planning a pregnancy, or early in the pregnancy irrespective of a previous positive rubella antibody result. If rubella antibody levels are low, these women should receive MMR vaccine either at least 28 days before becoming pregnant or shortly after delivery and before discharge from the maternity unit. Women should not receive the vaccine if they are pregnant or might become pregnant within 28 days.

The MMR vaccine contains a small amount of weakened strains of live measles, mumps and rubella viruses, and a small amount of an antibiotic (neomycin).

Possible side effects of MMR immunisation

Reactions to MMR immunisation are much less frequent than the complications of natural measles. The most common reaction is feeling unwell and having a low grade fever, possibly with a rash, occurring 7-10 days after immunisation and lasting about 2-3 days. Children who develop the rash during this time are not infectious to others. The fever can be reduced with appropriate doses of paracetamol. Occasionally children will develop a mild swelling of the salivary glands about 3 weeks after the immunisation because of the mumps component of the vaccine. More serious reactions are rare. About 1 in 30,500 children develops bruising or bleeding (thrombocytopenia) which gets better by itself. If inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) occurs at all following MMR immunisation, it is very rare - probably at a rate of 1 in a million doses or less. Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is prevented by immunisation. The risks of serious complications after catching measles, mumps or rubella, are much greater than the very small risks of side effects resulting from the MMR immunisation. There is no scientific evidence that MMR vaccine causes autism.

Page last modified: 28 June, 2013