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Measles vaccine

The single measles vaccine was introduced into the UK in 1968, and was replaced by the MMR vaccine in 1988. The vaccine is ‘live’, containing live measles virus that has been altered (attenuated) to become relatively harmless.


The vaccine works in around 9 out of 10 children; the single measles vaccine has a similar effectiveness to the measles component of the MMR. A single dose, provided it works (which can be checked by a blood test) provides long lasting protection into adulthood.

When is the vaccine given?

The vaccination can be given at any time from 12 months. However it appears to be significantly more effective if given at 15 months or later.

Side effects

The vaccine causes symptoms of mild measles (rash, fever, sticky eyes and runny nose) in around 1 in 10 of children about one week after receiving the vaccine. Typical symptoms include a high temperature, runny nose, sticky eyes and possibly a rash and/or vomiting, usually lasting 2-3 days. Treat this as you would any flu like illness.

1 in 2,000 children suffer a
febrile convulsion (fit as a result of a fever) after the vaccine. A febrile convulsion is more than twice as likely to occur after the MMR than after the single measles vaccine.

ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) is a rare autoimmune bleeding disorder that occurs after 1 in every half a million vaccinations. It can be serious, even fatal, though most children make a full recovery within six months. ITP occurs
more commonly after the MMR than after the single measles vaccine. Though this is not proven, there may be around 1 in a million chance of your child developing encephalitis. This is a serious condition with a 15% chance of death. However, it should be noted that the risk of developing encephalitis after measles is around 1 in 5,000. This means that encephalitis is around 200 times more likely with measles that following measles immunisation.

All side effects of the single measles vaccine occur at least as commonly with the MMR vaccine.

To download a detailed list of all the vaccines we offer including all their ingredients please follow this link
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