What you should know about the MMR vaccine

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by Vicky Lumsden

measles, mumps and rubella are serious infections that can prove fatal.
Over the last five years there have been few things as worrying to mothers as the MMR vaccine. Although the controversy has died down in the last twelve months, there is still a great deal of debate and confusion surrounding this topic.

What is MMR?

The MMR vaccine is a single injection that protects children against the measles, mumps and rubella viruses. In the past separate injections were given for each virus.

Why is it so important?

Measles, mumps and rubella are serious infections that can prove fatal. The success of vaccinations requires the vast majority of the population receiving the vaccine. If a sizeable number of parents didn't give their children the vaccine an epidemic could result. The last epidemic in the UK in 1980 left seventeen people dead.

When should my child receive the MMR vaccine?

Your child should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine. The initial injection is on his/her first birthday and the second (a booster) is when he/she is four years old.

Is it suitable for all children?

No, some children are allergic to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin which are present in the vaccine. Consult your doctor if you are unsure. Adults who wish to take the vaccine should not do so if they are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

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