NHS Services

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella

Travel Vaccination

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella

Measles, mumps, and rubella are highly infectious conditions that can have serious or potentially fatal outcomes, such as deafness, meningitis or swelling of the brain (encephalitis). Outbreaks don’t happen very often in the UK but it is still important to keep your vaccine status up to date.

You need to get your first dose of this vaccine at least 6 weeks before you travel, then have a second dose at least 4 weeks afterwards. You should have your second dose 2 weeks or more before you travel.

There is no need for a booster dose of this vaccine.

About the vaccine

When to get vaccinated: Start your course at least six weeks before travelling. You need two doses, with minimum a four week gap in between, and your second dose needs to be completed at least two weeks before travelling, making six weeks total. If you also require a Yellow Fever vaccine, you should have ideally a four week gap between this and your MMR. This may also apply to a chickenpox vaccine and tuberculosis test, they should be done on the same day as MMR or allow a 4 week gap.

Course: You need two doses doses of the vaccine, with at least four weeks in between each dose.

Accelerated course: There is no accelerated dose course.

How it is given: You will receive an injection in your upper arm, before it joins your shoulder.

Side effects: Common side effects can include a rash, fever, and bruising, redness, pain, or swelling where you were injected. They can also include general feelings of being unwell (malaise) and also fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, stomach upset, muscles aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

Children: Except in cases of an epidemic, children should only be vaccinated after they’re 12 months old. We currently only provide vaccinations to those who are 18 years or older. See your GP to get your child vaccinated, even if they’re late they can get a ‘catch-up vaccination’ on the NHS.

Risk if you contract measles, mumps, or rubella: These conditions are highly infectious and can be very serious, even fatal. They can also lead to complications like meningitis, encephalitis (inflammation and swelling of your brain) and deafness.

What are measles, mumps, and rubella?

These are highly infectious conditions that can have serious or potentially fatal outcomes, such as deafness, meningitis or swelling of the brain (encephalitis). Children have been routinely vaccinated against them since the vaccine was introduced in 1988. Outbreaks don’t happen very often in the UK but it is still important to keep your vaccine status up to date.

Many people have heard the myth that vaccines like the MMR vaccine have been linked to autism. This was due to one study that was completely discredited, written by a man who was stripped of his license to practice medicine in the UK. Since this study almost 20 years ago, no other study has shown this link to exist. Please do not avoid getting vaccinated as there is no such risk involved.

Who is this vaccine for?

This service is for adults who may be at risk of contracting measles, mumps or rubella, including:

People who are travelling to a country that is high risk for measles, mumps, or rubella, or a country that is experiencing an epidemic for one of these conditions (see below for more details)
People who have not completed a course of these vaccinations before
People over 18 years old:
Those under 18 can see their GP for a ‘catch up vaccination’
The vaccine can be taken from 12 months; OR 9 months old in some cases, but we only provide this service to those over 18

Which countries have a risk of MMR?

Due to an increased risk of these diseases, it is advised to don’t travel to the following places without getting vaccinated for MMR:

  • Much of Asia
  • Africa
  • The indian sub-continent
  • South America
  • Saudi Arabia (for Hajj or Umrah for example) – this is strongly recommended due to recent outbreaks.

    MMR is part of routine childhood vaccination and that there has also been outbreaks in the following areas, so vaccinating against MMR is always a good idea:

  • The United States
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Israel
  • Several European countries including the UK

Who shouldn’t receive this vaccine?

Because it contains live viruses as part of the vaccine,it isn’t suitable for some individuals who are at a higher risk of harm . This includes people:

  • Who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Who are currently unwell with a fever
  • With a suppressed immune system
  • With untreated tuberculosis

    The vaccine may also be unsuitable for some other people due to the components or the way it’s given. This include people:

  • With hereditary bleeding disorders
  • Who avoid pork-based products
  • With an egg allergy
  • With a latex allergy
    And others

    A nurse will check you against the full list during your consultation for the vaccine.

Side effects

As will all vaccinations, there are some potential side effects.

Very common/common side effects include:

  • Pain, redness, itching or swelling at the site of the injection
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • General aches, feeling unwell or weak
  • Stomach upset, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle and or joint pains
  • Lymphangitis (lymph node inflammation)
  • Feeling irritable or tired
  • Upper respiratory tract infection



Antimalarial medication is used to prevent and treat malaria.

Vaccination against typhoid fever is recommended.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by a virus

Cholera is an infection that can cause severe diarrhea. 

Rabies is a rare but very serious infection of the brain and nerves.

The MenACWY vaccine is given by a single injection into the upper arm

Diphtheria is a highly contagious and potentially fatal infection. 

Get your travel vaccinations and medication