Measles: Don’t let your child catch it

Family walking outdoors
  • Date published:

  • Author: jasminefeakes

Sadly, outbreaks of measles are on the rise. It's a very serious disease and it's important to protect your child.

Get your child vaccinated with the MMR vaccine

  • Measles can be a very serious disease, leading to ear and chest infections, fits, diarrhoea, and damage to the brain. Measles can kill.
  • Your child is at risk of measles if he or she hasn’t had the MMR vaccination. They should have had this when they were a baby, but it’s never too late to get protected.
  • Two doses of MMR vaccine are needed to get the best protection
  • If your child is due to have had two doses of MMR but has not yet received one or both of them, no matter what age they are, you should contact your GP to get them vaccinated as soon as possible. (If there has been a local outbreak, the two doses can be given one month apart, providing the child is at least 18 months old)
  • If you can’t remember whether your child has received the MMR vaccine, check his or her personal child health record (the Red Book) or speak to your GP.
  • If you’re not sure how many doses your child has had, it’s better to have two doses of MMR vaccine now rather than risk leaving them unprotected.

MMR: Your questions answered…

Why are we seeing these outbreaks of measles?

Measles is a highly infectious disease, spreading quickly from person to person, especially in schools. A child with measles will infect almost all unprotected children they have contact with. Since the end of 2017 there has been an increase in measles globally which has affected the UK. This has resulted in some spread into wider communities, in particular in undervaccinated groups.

When are the MMR vaccinations usually given?

The best times are between 12 and 13 months of age, and again at three years and four months, with one dose on each occasion. But, if your child wasn’t vaccinated then, they can be vaccinated at any age, providing the two doses are given one month apart.

Will there be any side effects to the vaccination?

Your child may experience some of the symptoms of measles, mumps and rubella for up to six weeks after the vaccination but in a much, much milder form. This proves that the vaccine is working and your child is building up resistance to future contact with the viruses that cause the three diseases. Not all children show these symptoms but that doesn’t mean the vaccine isn’t working.

Should parents in outbreak areas get vaccinated against measles?

As with many diseases, once you have had measles, you don’t catch it again because you have built up a natural resistance. So, if you’ve had measles, or two doses of the MMR vaccine, you don’t need to get vaccinated now.

Does the MMR vaccine cause autism?

The 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield which claimed that there’s a link between the MMR vaccine and autism has affected the uptake of the vaccine. This study has been completely discredited and Wakefield is no longer allowed to practice medicine in the UK.

There have been many studies since Wakefield’s work was discredited. They have all found no link between autism and MMR. A recent study that followed a large number of children has again found that there is no link between MMR and autism.

Useful links

NHS- MMR vaccine overview