Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Vaccination

What is the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine?

The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is a highly effective, combined vaccine designed to safeguard against measles, mumps, and rubella. Each of these infections can cause severe health complications, particularly in children, and are highly contagious, as they can spread through the air.

How the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine works

The MMR vaccine operates by introducing small, weakened amounts of the measles, mumps, and rubella viruses into the body. This exposure does not cause disease but instead prompts the immune system to respond as if it were a real infection.

The immune system then produces antibodies that recognise and fight off these viruses. If a vaccinated person is later exposed to the viruses, their immune system will be primed to recognise and combat them efficiently, preventing illness.

Studies have shown that people who are vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella remain immune for life in most cases.

Why do you need the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is crucial for preventing outbreaks of measles, mumps, and rubella – all of which can lead to serious health issues.

  • Measles can result in pneumonia, brain damage, seizures, and even death
  • Mumps can cause painful swelling of the glands, deafness, potential fertility problems, and, occasionally, meningitis
  • Rubella is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, as it can cause congenital rubella syndrome, leading to birth defects or miscarriage

Vaccination not only protects you but also contributes to community immunity, thereby reducing the spread of these diseases.

In Singapore, the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is recommended under the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) and National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS) to enhance community immunity and reduce the spread of the disease.

Immunisation against measles is compulsory by law and is required for school enrolment.

When do you need the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine?

As part of the NCIS, children are typically given the first dose of the MMR vaccine from the age of 12 months onwards, with a second dose administered at least 4 weeks later.

As part of the NAIS, adults aged 18 years and above who haven’t been vaccinated or lack evidence of immunity or past infection will receive 2 doses of the MMR vaccine 4 weeks apart.

Some people may need a third dose of the MMR vaccine, such as:

  • Healthcare workers
  • People who travel to countries where measles, mumps, and rubella are common
  • People with certain medical conditions, such as HIV/AIDS

Who should not receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine?

Individuals who should avoid the MMR vaccine include those with:

  • Severe, life-threatening allergies to any component of the vaccine
  • Pregnant women
  • Individuals with weakened immune systems due to illness or medications

If you fall into any of these categories, consult with your doctor about alternative preventive measures.

How do you prepare for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine?

To prepare for the MMR vaccine:

  • Provide a detailed medical history to your doctor, including any allergies (such as neomycin or eggs), immune system conditions, and current medications you are taking
  • Inform your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding
  • Notify your doctor if you've received another vaccine recently or are unwell on the day of vaccination.

What can you expect when getting the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is typically administered as a subcutaneous (applied under the skin) injection, usually in the upper arm.

After receiving the vaccine, you'll need to remain in the clinic for a short period to ensure there are no immediate adverse reactions.

What are the common side effects of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine?

Common side effects of the MMR vaccine are generally mild and can include:

  • Low-grade fever
  • Skin rash
  • Swelling or redness at the injection site
  • Mild joint pain or temporary stiffness

What are the serious side effects that require medical attention?

Serious side effects from the MMR vaccine are extremely rare but can include:

  • High fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness
  • Rashes all over the body
  • Severe allergic reactions that can manifest with swelling in the eyes, face, tongue, and lips

If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately.

Where can I get vaccinated?

Find a Parkway Shenton clinic near you and call us to confirm if your preferred vaccine is available.

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