TO help deal with parental concerns, Professor Helen Bedford, a specialist in child public health at University College London, tells you all you need to know about the MMR vaccine.
When is the vaccine given?
THE MMR vaccine is part of the NHS Routine Childhood Immunisation Programme.
It’s typically given via a single shot into the muscle of the thigh or the upper arm.
The first dose is offered to children at the age of one (babies younger than this may have some protection from antibodies passed on from their mother, which start to wear off at about 12 months.)
The second dose is then offered to children aged three years and four months before they start school.
To check to see if you or your child have had the recommended two doses of MMR, you can look at their/your Personal Child Health Record, also known as the red book.
If you can’t find the red book, call your GP and ask them for your vaccine records.
You are never too old to catch up with your MMR vaccine.
If you see from your vaccination records that you did not receive two doses as a child, you can book a vaccination appointment.
Is the vaccine safe?
THE MMR vaccine is safe and effective at preventing measles, mumps and rubella.
In the UK, we started using the jab in 1988, so we have decades of experience using it.
The jab is made from much-weakened live versions of the three viruses.
This triggers the immune system to produce antibodies that are protective in the face of future exposure.
It takes up to three weeks after having the vaccine to be fully protected.
Like any vaccine, the MMR jab can cause side-effects, which are usually mild and go away very quickly.
This includes rash, high temperature, loss of appetite and a general feeling of being unwell for about two or three days.
There is also a very small chance children can have a severe allergic reaction.
But compared to the complications of measles, there is no contest that vaccination is by far the safest and most effective route to take.
Why was it linked with autism?
IN 1998, Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues published a now-discredited paper in medical journal The Lancet.
The paper suggested that the MMR vaccine might be associated with autism and a form of bowel disease.
It led to a sharp decline in vaccination rates.
Even at the time, the research was considered poor.
The Lancet retracted the story in 2010 after Wakefield’s article was found “dishonest” by the General Medical Council.
He was later struck off and subsequently, in 2011, the British Medical Journal declared the story fraudulent.
Does it contain ingredients from pigs?
THERE are two types of MMR jabs: One with gelatin (animal/pig collagen), and one without it.
For some religious groups, the inclusion of pig products is not acceptable.
Those people should ask for the vaccine without gelatin.
Source: The Sun