Protecting against a trio of nasty viruses, the MMR vaccine is one of your baby’s most important vaccinations. It’s really simple and shields your little one from many potential-illnesses
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab is one that gets most mums asking ‘have you?’
It’s over 15 years since the MMR was linked to autism risk. And while the theory behind the link has now been debunked there are still plenty of nerves around the jab and update isn’t as high it should be.
Upshot? There’s a lower immunity to the trio of viruses – measles, mumps and rubella – in the population.
So your baby needs it more than ever. Here’s why...
1. A necessary immune boost
Since it was formulated 1988, the MMR vaccine has dramatically reduced the number of babies who have developed the illnesses the vaccine protects against.
‘In his first few months your baby was defended by your antibodies (from your breast milk or from your blood while he was in your womb), but this gradually loses effect,’ explains midwife Sharon Trotter. Vaccines act as a defence barrier, helping your baby’s body build up a tolerance to certain viruses that can make him ill.
2. What it protects against
MMR stands for Measles, Mumps and Rubella – three highly contagious viruses that can each lead to some unpleasant complications.
There has been a spike in measles in recent years. So, all parents are encouraged to make sure their child has this injection to prevent it. By vaccinating all babies, it is hoped to eradicate these diseases.
Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that can lead to pneumonia and brain damage. Mumps is usually a mild viral infection in babies – it’s rare in babies under two years old, but can have serious complications including deafness. Rubella (German measles) is usually mild, however immunisation is important to protect pregnant women, as if contracted, the unborn babies can be affected.
3. When your baby should have it
You’ll be offered your baby’s first MMR vaccine within a month of his first birthday.
‘Most importantly, make sure your baby is in good health when he has the vaccine,’ advises Sharon. ‘Make sure you let the nurse know if your baby has a cold or a high temperature and your baby's appointment can be delayed.'
The MMR vaccine may be given to a six-month-old baby if he was exposed to the measles virus, or during a measles outbreak.
‘There is also a booster that is given just before your child starts school,’ says Sharon. This will be arrnaged by the school nurse.
4. How the MMR vaccine works
Your baby will be injected once, in his thigh muscle or arm.
Similar to other injections, the MMR vaccines release small amounts of the living – but inactivated – viruses that cause the three diseases. So, there is no risk of the diseases being caught and instead your baby’s body learns to produce the antibodies that fight against them.
5. Possible side effects
There are risks to having the MMR vaccine, but it’s important to note that these are unlikely – it’s far more likely that your baby becomes ill from one of the diseases then from the vaccine.
Your baby could develop a fever, go off his food or develop a rash on his body. If this happens, liquid paracetamol or liquid ibuprofen are often recommended to settle your baby’s temperature.
If you think your baby is reacting badly to the immunisation, showing signs of fever and rashes, make sure you seek medical help.