Children are offered the MMR vaccine at 12 and 18 months of age through the National Immunisation Program. The second dose at 18 months also includes the varicella vaccine to protect against chickenpox and so it is known as the MMRV vaccine. According to the Australian Immunisation Handbook, two doses of MMR vaccines are recommended for everyone who does not have immunity against measles, mumps or rubella.
Most people born before 1966 are immune to the diseases, especially measles and mumps, because they probably had the disease in childhood.
It is important that your child receives 2 doses of the MMR vaccine to be protected. You can check your family’s immunisation records at the Australian Immunisation Register.
It is also important to make sure you are fully vaccinated to protect you from these infections especially before travelling abroad, as these and many other diseases are still common outside Australia. If you’re not sure if you are fully vaccinated, have the vaccine. An extra dose of MMR vaccine will not hurt you, and will make sure you are fully protected.
Who should not have the vaccine?
Before being vaccinated, you must say if you:
- aren’t feeling well (for example you have the flu)
- have any severe allergies (such as antibiotics, latex, gelatine)
- are pregnant or plan to be pregnant in the next 2 months
- have received another live vaccination in the last month
- have received blood, blood products or immunoglobulin in the last 3 months
- have a disease (for example HIV/AIDS or cancer) or having treatment that lowers immunity.
Pregnant women and MMR vaccine
To prevent any possible harm to your baby, you shouldn’t have an MMR vaccination if you are thinking of becoming pregnant. You should also wait 2 months after having MMR vaccination before becoming pregnant.
Should you discover you are pregnant after having MMR vaccination, discuss with your doctor. There are no known cases of the vaccine harming the developing baby, but doctors generally try not to give any live vaccines or medications during pregnancy. Having MMR vaccination in early pregnancy is not a reason to terminate a pregnancy (have an abortion).