Measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine

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

  • Measles causes a cough, high fever, rash, pneumonia and swelling of the brain.
  • Mumps causes fever, headache, tiredness, and swelling of the salivary glands, swollen ovaries or testicles.
  • Rubella causes fever and rash but in pregnant women their babies can be born with severe disabilities.
  • Chickenpox can cause fever, irritability, fluid filled blisters on the skin numbering from 200 to 500, meningitis, bacterial skin infection and complications in the baby if a woman has chickenpox during pregnancy.

The vaccine contains a small amount of the live virus.

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

This vaccine combinations a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and a Chickenpox vaccine.

Vaccine recommendations

The MMRV vaccine a free vaccine for children at 18 months of age as part of the National Immunisation Program.

MMRV should not be given as the first measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) containing vaccine in children less than four years of age.

The vaccine may also be recommended to other groups, speak to your doctor or immunisation provider for further information.

How the vaccine is given

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

Possible side effects

Like any medications, the MMRV 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 may occur where you were immunised. Five to 26 days after having the vaccine the following common side effects may also occur:

  • generalised faint rash (non infectious) five to 12 days later
  • pustular rash five to 26 days later (two to five lesions) usually at injection site, occasionally elsewhere on the body
  • head cold and/or a runny nose
  • cough and/or puffy eyes
  • moderate or a high fever, children may experience a 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)
  • impaired ability to coordinate movement (ataxia)
  • inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
  • 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 immunisation providers, see the Immunisation services page.

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