Protection against 3 serious illnesses

Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) are highly infectious conditions that can have serious or potentially fatal outcomes, such as deafness, meningitis or swelling of the brain (encephalitis). Outbreaks don’t happen very often in the UK but it is still important to keep your vaccine status up to date.

Between 2017 and 2018 cases of measles increased by almost 400%. Once almost eradicated, measles is making a very unwelcome comeback.

The good news is you can protect yourself and the ones you care about with a simple vaccine, which you can get at your local pharmacy.

Although measles is a vaccine preventable disease, a recent Unicef report has placed the UK as having the 3rd highest rate of unvaccinated children out of the 10 highest-income countries. Alarmingly, more than 0.5 million UK children are currently at risk of contracting the potentially deadly measles virus because they have not been vaccinated. Public Health England also reports that there were 966 confirmed cases of measles in England alone during 2018 (nearly 4 times the number in 2017); with most cases reported in people over the age of 15.

To halt this worrying trend, we believe it is vital that we begin raising awareness of the importance of vaccination and have started offering the service at our pharmacies.

Health Plus Pharmacy make the measles, mumps, & rubella (MMR) vaccination convenient and accessible for all the community in Cardiff and Pontypool. Book an appointment with a pharmacist for a free consultation.

About the MMR vaccine

Price: £45 per dose of the Measles (MMR) Vaccination

Doses per course: 1-2

Price per course: £45-£90

Course: You need two doses doses of the vaccine, with at least four weeks in between each dose.

Accelerated course: There is no accelerated dose course.

How it is given: You will receive an injection in your upper arm, before it joins your shoulder.

Side effects: Common side effects can include a rash, fever, and bruising, redness, pain, or swelling where you were injected. They can also include general feelings of being unwell (malaise) and also fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, stomach upset, muscles aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

Children: Except in cases of an epidemic, children should only be vaccinated after they’re 12 months old. We currently only provide vaccinations to those who are 18 years or older. See your GP to get your child vaccinated, even if they’re late they can get a ‘catch-up vaccination’ on the NHS.

Risk if you contract measles, mumps, or rubella: These conditions are highly infectious and can be very serious, even fatal. They can also lead to complications like meningitis, encephalitis (inflammation and swelling of your brain) and deafness.

What are measles, mumps, and rubella?

These are highly infectious conditions that can have serious or potentially fatal outcomes, such as deafness, meningitis or swelling of the brain (encephalitis). Children have been routinely vaccinated against them since the vaccine was introduced in 1988. Outbreaks don’t happen very often in the UK but it is still important to keep your vaccine status up to date.

Many people have heard the myth that vaccines like the MMR vaccine have been linked to autism. This was due to one study that was completely discredited, written by a man who was stripped of his license to practice medicine in the UK. Since this study almost 20 years ago, no other study has shown this link to exist. Please do not avoid getting vaccinated as there is no such risk involved.

Measles, mumps, and rubella symptoms

Measles causes fever, rash, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Complications can include ear infection, diarrhea, pneumonia, brain damage, and death.

Mumps causes fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen salivary glands. Complications can include swelling of the testicles or ovaries, deafness, inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis/meningitis) and, rarely, death.

Rubella causes fever, sore throat, rash, headache, and red, itchy eyes. If a woman gets rubella while she is pregnant, she could have a miscarriage or her baby could be born with serious birth defects.

You can protect against these diseases with safe, effective MMR vaccination.

Which countries have a risk of MMR?

Due to an increased risk of these diseases, it is advised you don’t travel to the following places without getting vaccinated for MMR:

  • Much of Asia
  • Africa
  • The indian sub-continent
  • South America
  • Saudi Arabia (for Hajj or Umrah for example) – this is strongly recommended due to recent outbreaks

MMR is part of routine childhood vaccination and that there has also been outbreaks in the following areas, so vaccinating against MMR is always a good idea:

  • The United States
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Israel
  • Several European countries including the UK

About the MMR vaccination

You need to get your first dose of this vaccine at least 6 weeks before you travel, then have a second dose at least 4 weeks afterwards. You should have your second dose 2 weeks or more before you travel.

There is no need for a booster dose of this vaccine.

MMR vaccine ingredients

There are 2 different brands of MMR vaccine available in the UK. These are called MMRVaxPro and Priorix.

The main ingredient of the MMR vaccine is a small amount of weakened measles, mumps and rubella viruses.

The MMR vaccine does not contain mercury (thiomersal).

MMRVaxPro contains porcine gelatine to ensure the vaccine remains safe and effective during storage.

You can find a full list of ingredients in these patient information leaflets:

MMRVaxPro patient information leaflet (PDF, 104KB)
Priorix patient information leaflet (PDF, 124KB)

Effectiveness of the MMR vaccine

The MMR vaccine is very safe and 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.

Why vaccines are important

Vaccination is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and our children against ill health. They prevent up to 3 million deaths worldwide every year.

Since vaccines were introduced in the UK, diseases like smallpox, polio and tetanus that used to kill or disable millions of people are either gone or seen very rarely.

Other diseases like measles and diphtheria have been reduced by up to 99.9% since their vaccines were introduced.

However, if people stop having vaccines, it’s possible for infectious diseases to quickly spread again.

How the MMR vaccine is given

The MMR vaccine is given as 2 doses of a single injection into the muscle of the thigh or upper arm.

2 doses of the MMR vaccine provide the best protection against measles, mumps and rubella.

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

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.

Common side effects of the MMR vaccine

As there are 3 separate vaccines within a single injection, different side effects can happen at different times.

Measles vaccine side effects

Around 7 to 11 days after the injection, some children get a very mild form of measles.

This includes:

  • a rash
  • a high temperature
  • loss of appetite
  • a general feeling of being unwell for about 2 or 3 days

These symptoms are not infectious, so your child will not pass anything on to non-vaccinated children.

Mumps vaccine side effects

Around 3 to 4 weeks after the injection, 1 in 50 children develop a mild form of mumps. This includes swollen glands in the cheeks, neck or under the jaw which can last for up to 2 days.

These symptoms are not infectious for other people.

Rubella vaccine side effects

Around 1 to 3 weeks after the injection, some adult women experience painful, stiff or swollen joints for up to 3 days.

Rare side effects of the MMR vaccine

Bruise-like spots

Rarely, a child may get a small rash of bruise-like spots about 2 weeks after having the MMR vaccine.

This side effect is linked to the rubella vaccine and is known as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).

It’s been estimated that ITP develops in 1 in every 24,000 doses of the MMR vaccine given. However, the risk of developing ITP from measles or rubella infection is far greater than from having the vaccine.

ITP usually gets better without treatment but, as with any rash, you should get advice from your GP as soon as possible.

Seizures (fits)

There’s a small chance of having a seizure (fit) 6 to 11 days after the MMR vaccine. This can be caused by having a high temperature in response to the measles vaccine virus.

It may sound alarming but having a seizure after the MMR vaccine is rare. They happen in about 1 in every 1,000 doses given.

In fact, MMR-related seizures are less frequent than seizures that happen as a direct result of a measles infection.

Allergic reactions to the MMR vaccine

It’s rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine. If this does happen, it’s usually within minutes.

The person who vaccinates you or your child will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately. With fast treatment, you or your child will make a good recovery.

Gelatine and neomycin allergies

Let your doctor or nurse know if you or your child has had severe allergic reactions to:

  • gelatine
  • an antibiotic called neomycin

Egg allergies

The MMR vaccine is safe for children and adults with a severe egg allergy.

This is because the MMR vaccine is grown on chick cells, not the egg white or yolk.

Who should get the MMR Vaccine?


All children get two doses of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Children can receive the second dose earlier as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.

Students at post-high school educational institutions

Students at post-high school educational institutions who do not have presumptive evidence of immunity need two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.


Adults who do not have presumptive evidence of immunity should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.

Certain adults may need 2 doses. Adults who are going to be in a setting that poses a high risk for measles or mumps transmission should make sure they have had two doses separated by at least 28 days. These adults include

  • students at post-high school education institutions
  • healthcare personnel
  • international travelers

International travelers

People 6 months of age and older who will be traveling internationally should be protected against measles.

Before any international travel:

  • Infants 6 through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine. Infants who get one dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday should get two more doses (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose separated by at least 28 days).
  • Children 12 months of age and older should receive two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.
  • Teenagers and adults who do not have presumptive evidence of immunity against measles should get two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.

Healthcare personnel

Healthcare personnel should have documented presumptive evidence of immunity. Healthcare personnel without evidence of immunity should get two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.

Women of Childbearing Age

Women of childbearing age should check with their doctor to make sure they are vaccinated before they get pregnant. Women of childbearing age who are not pregnant and do not have presumptive evidence of immunity should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.

It is safe for breastfeeding women to receive MMR vaccination. Breastfeeding does not interfere with the response to MMR vaccine, and the baby will not be affected by the vaccine through breast milk.

Groups at increased risk for mumps because of a mumps outbreak

During a mumps outbreak, public health authorities might recommend an additional dose of MMR vaccine for people who belong to groups at increased risk for getting mumps. These groups are usually those who are likely to have close contact, such as sharing sport equipment or drinks, kissing, or living in close quarters, with a person who has mumps.

Your local public health authorities or institution will communicate to the groups at increased risk that they should receive this dose. If you already have two doses of MMR, it is not necessary to seek out vaccination unless you are part of this group.

Who should not get the MMR vaccine?

Some people should not get MMR vaccine or should wait.

You should tell your local Health Plus Pharmacists if the person getting the vaccine:

  • Has any severe, life-threatening allergies. A person who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of MMR vaccine, or has a severe allergy to any part of this vaccine, may be advised not to be vaccinated. Ask your health care provider if you want information about vaccine components.
  • Is pregnant or thinks she might be pregnant. Pregnant women should wait to get MMR vaccine until after they are no longer pregnant. Women should avoid getting pregnant for at least 1 month after getting MMR vaccine.
  • Has a weakened immune system due to disease (such as cancer or HIV/AIDS) or medical treatments (such as radiation, immunotherapy, steroids, or chemotherapy).
  • Has a parent, brother, or sister with a history of immune system problems.
  • Has ever had a condition that makes them bruise or bleed easily.
  • Has recently had a blood transfusion or received other blood products. You might be advised to postpone MMR vaccination for 3 months or more.
  • Has tuberculosis.
  • Has gotten any other vaccines in the past 4 weeks. Live vaccines given too close together might not work as well.
  • Is not feeling well. A mild illness, such as a cold, is usually not a reason to postpone a vaccination. Someone who is moderately or severely ill should probably wait. Your doctor can advise you.

Who does not need the MMR Vaccine?

You do not need measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine if you meet any of these criteria for presumptive evidence of immunity*:

  • You have written documentation of adequate vaccination:   
    • at least one dose of a measles, mumps, and rubella virus-containing vaccine administered on or after the first birthday for preschool-age children and adults not at high risk for exposure and transmission
    • two doses of measles and mumps virus-containing vaccine for school-age children and adults at high risk for exposure and transmission, including college students, healthcare personnel, international travelers, and groups at increased risk during outbreaks
    • You have laboratory confirmation of past infection or had blood tests that show you are immune to measles, mumps, and rubella.
    • You were born before 1957.**

If you do not have presumptive evidence of immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella, talk with your doctor about getting vaccinated. If you’re unsure whether you’ve been vaccinated, you should first try to find your vaccination records. If you do not have written documentation of MMR vaccine, you should get vaccinated. The MMR vaccine is safe, and there is no harm in getting another dose if you may already be immune to measles, mumps, or rubella.

If you received a measles vaccine in the 1960s, you may not need to be revaccinated. People who have documentation of receiving LIVE measles vaccine in the 1960s do not need to be revaccinated. People who were vaccinated prior to 1968 with either inactivated (killed) measles vaccine or measles vaccine of unknown type should be revaccinated with at least one dose of live attenuated measles vaccine. This recommendation is intended to protect those who may have received killed measles vaccine, which was available in 1963-1967 and was not effective.

*Except during a mumps outbreak. During a mumps outbreak public health authorities might recommend an additional dose of MMR vaccine for people who belong to groups at increased risk for getting mumps, regardless if they meet the criteria listed above.

**Birth before 1957 provides only presumptive evidence for measles, mumps, and rubella. Before vaccines were available, nearly everyone was infected with measles, mumps, and rubella viruses during childhood. The majority of people born before 1957 are likely to have been infected naturally and therefore are presumed to be protected against measles, mumps, and rubella. Healthcare personnel born before 1957 without laboratory evidence of immunity or disease should consider getting two doses of MMR vaccine.

Is there a cure for measles, mumps or rubella?

There is no cure for measles, mumps or rubella. Most people usually recover at home without any treatment.  You can treat symptoms at home by:

  • getting plenty of rest
  • drinking plenty of fluids to keep well hydrated
  • take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat any pain or discomfort

If complications occur, you should seek medical advice as you may need to be admitted to hospital for treatment.