MMRvaxPRO (Measles, mumps, rubella vaccine)

How does it work?

MMRvaxPRO is a combination vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). It contains live but weakened versions of the three different viruses that cause these diseases. The vaccine works by provoking the body's immune response to these viruses, without actually causing the diseases.

When the body is exposed to foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses, the immune system produces antibodies against them. Antibodies help the body recognise and kill the foreign organisms. They then remain in the body to help protect the body against future infections with the same organism. This is known as active immunity.

The immune system produces different antibodies for each foreign organism it encounters. This establishes a pool of antibodies that helps protect the body from various different diseases.

Vaccines contain extracts or inactivated forms of bacteria or viruses that cause disease. These altered forms of the organisms stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against them, but don't actually cause disease themselves. The antibodies produced remain in the body so that if the organism is encountered naturally, the immune system can recognise it and attack it, thus preventing it from causing disease.

Each bacteria or virus stimulates the immune system to produce a specific type of antibody. This means that different vaccines are needed to prevent different diseases.

MMRvaxPRO is a combination vaccine that stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies against the viruses that can cause measles, mumps and rubella. It is given to prevent these diseases.

What is it used for?

  • Vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles).

How is it given?

The vaccine is one injection. It is given in two doses as part of the childhood immunisation schedule. The first dose is given at around 13 months of age, and a second (booster) dose is given before the child starts school at three to five years of age. The vaccine can also be given to adults who were not vaccinated in childhood.

Children under 12 months of age should not normally be given this vaccine as they may not respond adequately to it - usually because they still have antibodies passed on by their mother. The vaccine is not licensed for use in babies under nine months of age. However, the vaccine may be given to a child aged between 6 and 12 months if they are at particular risk of catching measles, for example if they have been exposed to someone with measles during an outbreak, or if they are travelling to an area where measles is a high risk. In these cases, the child should also still receive two doses of MMR at the normal times (13 months and pre-school).

The injection may be given into a muscle or under the skin. It is usually given into the thigh in younger children, and the upper arm in older children, adolescents and adults.

People at risk of bleeding following an injection into the muscle, eg people with blood clotting disorders such as haemophilia or low levels of platelets in their blood (thrombocytopenia) should be given the injection under the skin rather than into the muscle.


  • No vaccine is 100 per cent effective and this vaccine may not protect all people who are given it from contracting measles, mumps or rubella.
  • This vaccine may sometimes be given to people whose immune systems are underactive, as long as their immune system is not significantly impaired (see below). However, the vaccine may be less effective in these people. (For more information about immunosuppressive treatment see end of factsheet.)

Not to be used in

  • People with a fever or sudden severe illness (in this case the vaccine should be postponed until after recovery).
  • Pregnancy. Women must also take precautions to avoid getting pregnant for one month after having this vaccine.
  • People who have previously had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any ingredient of the vaccine (including the antibiotic neomycin).
  • People with cancerous disorders of the blood cells, bone marrow or lymphatic system, for example leukaemias or lymphomas.
  • People with a very underactive immune system, for example due to a genetic defect, HIV or AIDS, or treatment with medicines that suppress the immune system, such as chemotherapy, high doses of corticosteroids, or medicines to prevent transplant rejection.
  • People with a progressive or unstable neurological disorder (affecting the brain, spinal cord or nerves), or illness affecting the brain (encephalopathy), including uncontrolled epilepsy. These people should not be given the vaccine until the condition is treated and under control.
  • People who have had a blood or plasma transfusion, or an injection of human immunoglobulin, in the previous three months.
  • People who have had another live vaccine (eg BCG, chickenpox, yellow fever, oral rotavirus vaccine, or oral typhoid vaccine) in the last month.
  • People with rare hereditary problems of fructose intolerance (MMRvaxPRO contains sorbitol).

This vaccine should not be given if you or your child are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or nurse if you or your child have previously experienced such an allergy.

If you feel you or your child have experienced an allergic reaction after having this vaccine, inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

Use with caution in

  • People with a history of allergies.
  • People with a history of severe, immediate allergic reactions to eggs (eg anaphylaxis, hives, swelling of the mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, or shock after eating egg).
  • People with a personal or family history of convulsions (fits or seizures), eg epilepsy.
  • Children with a personal or family history of febrile convulsions. These children can still be given this vaccine, but your doctor may recommend that you give them a dose of paracetamol if they develop a temperature after having this vaccine. It is important to follow the instructions given by the doctor and give the recommended dose only.
  • HIV infection. This vaccine can be given to people who are HIV positive, as long as their immune system is not significantly impaired (see above). However, the vaccine may be less effective in people with HIV.
  • People who currently have low numbers of blood cells called platelets in their blood (thrombocytopenia), or who experienced this after a previous dose of MMR vaccine.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Certain vaccines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other vaccines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before having any vaccine.

  • This vaccine must not be given during pregnancy. It is also recommended that women who have this vaccine should use effective methods of contraception to avoid getting pregnant for at least one month following the vaccination. Seek further medical advice from your doctor.
  • If breastfeeding women are given this vaccine there is a chance that the rubella component of the vaccine may pass into the breast milk and be transmitted to the nursing infant. Although no cases of symptomatic rubella infection have been seen in nursing infants, this is a theoretical risk for babies with underactive immune systems. It is not known if the measles or mumps component of the vaccine pass into breast milk. The vaccine should only be given to breastfeeding women if the expected benefit is greater than any possible risk to the nursing infant. Seek further medical advice from your doctor.

Side effects

Vaccines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this vaccine. Just because a side effect is stated here does not mean that all people having this vaccine will experience that or any side effect. Side effects tend to be less common after the second dose of MMR than the first.

This vaccine may cause mild measles or mumps-type symptoms, but people who experience these side effects are not infectious. It is important to bear in mind that the risk of serious side effects from actually catching measles, mumps or rubella far outweigh the risk of suffering any serious side effects from this vaccination.

Very common (affect more than 1 in 10 people)

  • Pain, swelling or redness of the skin at the injection site.
  • Fever (high temperature). This can be reduced with paracetamol - ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist for advice. Fever can also occur one to two weeks after the vaccine.

Common (affect between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 people)

  • Rash. This may occur about a week after vaccination and can last two to three days.

Uncommon (affect between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000 people)

  • Cold-like symptoms, eg runny nose, cough.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Swollen glands. Swollen salivary glands may occur about three weeks after having the vaccine.

Unknown frequency

  • Feeling generally unwell.
  • Fitting (convulsions).
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Pain in the joints (more common in adult women).
  • Decrease in the normal number of blood cells called platelets in the blood (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura). Children who experience this side effect (which involves easy bruising or bleeding for longer than normal) within six weeks of receiving their first dose of MMR vaccine should have a test to measure the levels of antibodies in their blood before they are given a second dose of the vaccine. If the tests show that the child is not fully immune to measles, mumps and rubella it is recommended that the second MMR dose is still given.
  • Redness, irritation and watering of the eyes (conjunctivitis).
  • Swelling of the testicles.
  • Nerve problems such as Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the vaccine's manufacturer.

For more information about any other possible risks associated with this vaccine, please read the information provided with the vaccine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.

The MMR vaccine received large amounts of media coverage a few years ago, concerning a theoretical link between the vaccine and autism or bowel disease. An overwhelming body of evidence now exists that disproves any such theories and documents the safety of the vaccine. The Medical Research Council in the UK has reviewed all the available evidence and research regarding the use of the MMR vaccine and has concluded that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism or bowel disease. Because latest research has shown no connection, the Chief Medical Officer advises that the MMR vaccine is still the safest and best way to protect children against measles, mumps and rubella, and recommends that all children are given the vaccine at the appropriate time.

Over 500 million doses of MMR have been used in over 90 countries around the world since the early 1970s, and no country in the world recommends giving MMR vaccine as three separate injections. The World Health Organisation states that MMR is a highly effective vaccine with an outstanding safety record. If you are still concerned about your child receiving the vaccine, please talk to your doctor or pharmacist, who will be happy to give you further information on this matter and discuss the risks and benefits of giving or not giving the vaccine.

How can this vaccine affect other medicines or vaccines?

If you or your child are currently taking any medicines, or if you have recently had any other vaccines, it is important to let your doctor know before the MMR vaccine is given.

This vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines, but if so, the other vaccines should be administered into separate sites and preferably into separate limbs.

Live vaccines, for example BCG, chickenpox, yellow fever, oral rotavirus vaccine, or oral typhoid vaccine, should be given either at the same time as the MMR, or separated from it by four weeks.

The MMR vaccine should not be given within three months of having a blood or plasma transfusion, or an injection of human immunoglobulin. This is because the antibodies already obtained from the transfusion or immunoglobulin will mean that the body is unlikely to produce a sufficient antibody response to the vaccine.

In addition, blood products or immunoglobulins that contain measles, mumps or rubella antibodies should not be given within a month after having the MMR vaccine, unless considered essential by your doctor, because they are likely to make the vaccine less effective.

The MMR vaccine should not be given to people whose immune systems are underactive because they are being treated with medicines such as those listed below:

  • chemotherapy for cancer
  • corticosteroids in high doses (however the vaccine can be given to people taking low doses of corticosteroids for asthma or replacement therapy)
  • immunosuppressant medicines, eg abatacept, adalimumab, anakinra, azathioprine, ciclosporin, efalizumab, etanercept, infliximab, leflunomide, mycophenolate, tacrolimus
  • generalised radiotherapy for cancer.

This is because the vaccine will be less effective in people taking these medicines, and may carry a risk of causing infections. The vaccine should be not be given until at least three months after stopping high-dose corticosteroid treatment, and at least six months after stopping other immunosuppressants.

It is possible that the MMR vaccine may make skin tests for tuberculosis unreliable. For this reason, if skin tests for TB are needed they should be done either before the vaccine, at the same time as the vaccine, or four to six weeks after having the vaccine.

Other combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccines

  • Priorix.