The MMR vaccine is one of the most common vaccines in the world, and it is one that has been used since 1968 to protect people against the three viruses measles, mumps, and rubella. 

This vaccine plays an important role in our lives and should be taken at a young age to ensure that immunity is built up against these potentially dangerous viruses that can impact the body in a number of detrimental ways. 

When should you get the vaccine? 

With most vaccines, there is an age where it should be given and often vaccines are not given to babies or young children until they reach the age of 4-5 years old. However, due to the risk and severity of measles, mumps, and rubella for children – the vaccine is given to children from the age of 12 months old to help build up immunity and protect them against these potentially life threatening illnesses. 

Children will generally get their first shot after they hit 12 months old, and then a second shot will be given at 4-6 years olds to help build up immunity persistence and ensure that the body is completely prepared should it come into contact with the virus. 

Unvaccinated adults 

If you are an unvaccinated adult and you were born after 1957, you are seen as not having sufficient immunity and should therefore get one if not two doses of the vaccine to ensure immunity. For those born before 1957, it is likely that contact with measles, mumps, or rubella has happened during your lifetime and it is therefore not essential to take the vaccine. 

What are measles, mumps, and rubella? 

Measles, mumps, and rubella are all infectious viral illnesses that attack the cells from within and can cause some detrimental harm to the body in severe cases. 

Measles is a disease that manifests as fever, aches and pains, and large red blotches all over the skin. This is an uncomfortable illness and severe cases of the illness can cause some serious issues in the body and even death. 

Mumps is a painful and uncomfortable illness that causes swelling in key areas of the body, most likely around the neck and face. When you have swelling from mumps it can be painful, and this usually takes around 2 weeks to dissipate. Mumps can also cause complications such as brain damage and death in extreme cases. 

Rubella, or German measles, is an illness that causes rashes, fever, redness, and sore joints. It is particularly dangerous for pregnant women where there is a high risk of miscarriage or birth defects such as deafness or cataracts. 

How long does a measles vaccine last?

One question you might have when choosing to have the MMR vaccine is how long does this vaccine last? Unlike the flu vaccine which needs to be repeated every year to keep up with new strains, the MMR vaccine once administered in childhood or adulthood should provide you with immunity to these illnesses for life. The strength and effectiveness of this vaccine is brilliant and it is something that once administered can be forgotten about. 

Do I need a measles vaccine booster?

If you had the vaccination before 1968 you will need to get a booster because before this point in time live cultures were not used – and thus the effectiveness of the vaccine might not be as good. 

For those who have a compromised or weak immune system, it is a good idea to have a booster during adulthood and this will make sure that your immune system has successfully catalogued these viruses and has managed to give you lasting immunity for a longer stretch of time. 

So who needs another shot?

The measles vaccine alone became available in 1963 but was not combined with mumps and rubella for another few years. This means if you had your vaccine between the years of 1963 and 1968 you might not have full protection from mumps and rubella as well as measles; and therefore it is a good idea for you to get the vaccine. 

If you were born before 1957 you don’t need to get a vaccination and most people will have caught these illnesses naturally in their lives. 

The main factor that will contribute to you needing a booster jab is whether you have a strong or weak immune system. As we said before, a weak immune system might need some extra help to build those antibody levels ready for fighting measles, mumps, or rubella. A doctor can check your immunity levels and they will be able to administer the booster if you need the extra protection.