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Measles spreads very easily – it is five times more infectious than COVID-19. Measles can cause very serious illnesses like meningitis, sepsis and could result in permanent disabilities such as blindness. Many people who catch measles are likely to be hospitalised.

Find out more about the symptoms and how to protect your child against measles on the sections below:

Protection against measles

You can protect yourself or your child against measles by having 2 doses of the combined MMR vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella. The MMR vaccine is safe and effective. Two doses give 99% lifelong protection. 

Children are usually offered the first dose of MMR when they are about 13 months old and a second dose at 3 years and 4 months. It’s not too late to catch up if you or your child have not yet had the MMR vaccine. 

If you are unsure whether you or your child has been vaccinated, please call your GP practice, or check your child’s red book. 

Is the MMR vaccine safe?

The MMR vaccine has an excellent safety record. All vaccines undergo a rigorous testing process to ensure that they are safe and effective.

There is no evidence of any link between MMR and autism. There are many research studies that have investigated this. Unfortunately, widespread misinformation still remains.

Is there porcine gelatine in the MMR vaccine?

Most healthcare providers in London use the MMR vaccine that does not contain porcine gelatine.  

This vaccine is called Priorix. If it’s important for you to have this vaccine, make sure you ask your GP about it. The school immunisations team only use Priorix 


Symptoms of measles

  • high fever 

  • sore, red, watery eyes 

  • coughing 

  • aching and feeling generally unwell  

  • a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms 

  • small white spots in the mouth  

The rash usually appears a few days after the cold-like symptoms. 

It's very unlikely to be measles if the child has had both doses of the MMR vaccine or they have had had measles before. 

What to do if you think you or your child has measles

  • Stay away from school, nursery, work or group activities with others. 

  • Telephone your GP or call NHS 111. To prevent further spread of infection please do not visit the GP surgery or A&E in person unless advised to do so. 

  • People who have symptoms should also especially try to stay away from vulnerable people such as babies, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. 

  • People who have not been fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine and have been in close contact with a measles case may be asked to stay away from work or school for up to 21 days to prevent the further spread of infection. 

Where to get vaccinated

In partnership with NHS NWL, we are running health pop-up sessions in the community, no appointment needed.

If you or your family are not up to date with your MMR vaccine, you will be able to get it at these sessions.

Find out where the next health pop-ups are here.

You can also of course book to get vaccinated at your GP surgery.

Where can I find more information?

The following NHS webpages have useful information on measles and the MMR vaccine: 

The NHS measles webpage 

The NHS MMR vaccine webpage 

Or you can call the NHS School Immunisations team on: 0203 317 5076. 

Page last reviewed: 11/03/2024

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