The MMR Vaccination
This article first appears on British Mums 06th February 2018
The MMR is a combined vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella / German measles) given to prevent highly infectious viral diseases, which can be serious, and potentially fatal, complications including meningitis, encephalitis and deafness, to name a few.
The MMR vaccine is given as part of immunization schedules, the first at 13 months and the second between 4-6 years old (pre-school vaccination). There is no benefit to single vaccine injections and it means more painful injections for your child.
The first MMR injection is advised around 13 months of age because the protective maternal antibodies, passed from mother to baby at the time of birth, have declined. A second booster jab is given at 4-6 years of age. Our clinic advocates a third MMR dose around the age of 14 as evidence suggests declining immunity against measles, mumps and particularly rubella in females, around this age. This third dose acts as a second booster to the one given at 4-6 years of age.
The MMR vaccine can, and is, given earlier to babies over the age of 6 months in certain situations such as a measles outbreak in the area you live. Outbreaks of measles, mumps and rubella, in the UK, are rare since the introduction of the MMR in 1988. In Dubai there is the potential that a proportion of the resident population have not had the MMR vaccine, hence an increased risk of exposure to the diseases and increased importance of being fully vaccinated.
All vaccines are safe, including MMR.
There is anecdotal talk of links between MMR injections and conditions such as autism and sudden infant death syndrome. This is incorrect. A British and South African doctor presented evidence suggesting a link. Their evidence was subsequently found to be fraudulent and incorrect. Their work has sadly indirectly led to many unnecessary deaths. The British doctor was struck off the UK medical register as a result. Signs of autism often develop around the time of the first MMR vaccination is given, which has also led to some linking the two. There is absolutely no medical or scientific evidence to support this.
Vaccines prevent infectious diseases that once killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults. They mimic disease-causing our immune systems to produce antibodies and defence cells, that in the future can recognize and destroy the virus or bacterial should it be encountered, preventing illness. Simply they give immunity (protection) without suffering the illness.
Without vaccines, your child is at risk for getting seriously ill and suffering pain, disability, and even death from diseases such as measles (approximately 1-2 in 1000 children who contract measles will die).
Millions and millions of vaccines have been given to children over the last 50 years around the world and there is no medical or scientific evidence, from thousands of worldwide independent studies, to support any link or long-term detrimental effects.
There is a small risk of short-term side effects after immunisation injections, including a painful injection site, fever, a mild rash and occasionally stiff joints (mainly in women). Severe allergic reactions are very rare. If it were to occur doctors are experienced in the treatment. MMR has been linked to a very low increased risk in the first week after the injections of febrile seizures, there are no long-term effects of this.
Children and adults, who have missed or partially completed the MMR injections or who cannot remember should have ‘catch up’ doses. If you have lived in different countries growing up be aware some countries immunisation schedules do not, or did not, include MMR. If you are unsure it is recommended to get 2 MMR injections.
Women should have their immunity to measles, mumps and rubella checked prior to getting pregnant as contracting any of the 3 can lead to birth defects. If you have no immunity the MMR vaccine can be given. There should be a 1-month gap between injection and conception. The MMR vaccine is not given if you are already pregnant.