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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, high fever, rash, ear infection, conjunctivitis and swelling of the brain
  • Mumps - causes fever, headache, tiredness, and swelling of the salivary glands, ovaries or testicles
  • Rubella (German measles) - causes a rash and swollen glands, but infection in pregnancy, can result in the baby being 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, so 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. The vaccine is also free and given as the combination MMRV vaccine to all children at 18 months of age.

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

  • born in or after 1966, have not had the diseases or do not have two documented doses of the vaccine

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.

Common side effects

  • pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • fever after 7-10 days
  • moderate or a high fever in children up to 39 degrees Celsius or above
  • generalised faint rash (non infectious) five to 12 days later
  • head cold and/or a runny nose
  • a cough
  • puffy eyes
  • swollen glands.

Although rare or very rare, other side effects may include:

  • seizure due to high fever
  • bruising or bleeding (thrombocytopenia)
  • inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
  • a severe allergic (anaphylactic) reaction to the vaccine.

People with egg allergies can safely receive the MMR and MMRV vaccine (see ASCIA Guidelines – Vaccination of the egg-allergic individual)

If you are concerned, 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.

Reducing the side effects

Many of the common side effects can be reduced by:

  • drinking extra fluids
  • taking paracetamol
  • 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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