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Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine

The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine helps protect you against the following diseases:

  • Measles - causes a cough, fever rash, pneumonia and swelling of the brain
  • Mumps - causes fever, headache, tiredness, and swelling of the salivary glands, ovaries or testicles
  • German measles (rubella) - causes fever and rash but in pregnant women their babies can be born with severe disabilities

This vaccine contains small amounts of the live virus.

Some people may not be able to receive a live vaccine for medical reasons, please speak with your doctor or immunisation provider for further information.

This vaccine is also given in combination as the measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine.

Vaccine recommendations

The MMR vaccine is a free vaccine as part of the National Immunisation Program for children at 12 months of age and three and a half to four years of age. The vaccine is also free and given as the combination MMRV vaccine to all children at 18 months of age.

The vaccine is also recommended but not free when you are:

How the vaccine is given

The MMR vaccine is given as an injection into the top of the arm.

Possible side effects

Like any medications, the MMR vaccine can have some minor and short lasting side effects.

If you are concerned or worried, seek further advice from your doctor, immunisation provider, SA Health’s Immunisation Section or healthdirect Australia.

Any unexpected event following immunisation should be reported to SA Health.

Common side effects

Within four hours of having the vaccine, pain, redness and swelling where you were immunised may occur. Five to 12 days after having the vaccine the following common side effects may also occur:

  • generalised faint rash
  • head cold and/or a runny nose
  • a cough
  • puffy eyes
  • moderate or a high fever, children may experience a higher fever of 39 degrees Celsius or above
  • swollen glands, stiff neck or joint pain.

Uncommon side effects

Although very rare, you may also experience the following symptoms:

  • bruising or bleeding (thrombocytopenia)
  • a severe allergic (anaphylactic) reaction to the vaccine.

Reducing the side effects

Many of the common side effects can be reduced by:

  • drinking extra fluids
  • taking paracetamol as per the instructions on the packet/bottle
  • not overdressing if you are already hot.

Where to get immunised

To receive the vaccine contact your doctor, local council, community health centre or Aboriginal health centre to arrange an appointment. 

For further information on vaccine providers, see the Immunisation services page.

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