MMR - What is happening?

Both Oxford universities are seeing an increase in the numbers of cases of mumps disrupting academic and social life.

To prevent further disruption not only this term/semester, but over the remainder of the academic year, we are strongly urging you to attend MMR (Mumps) vaccination clinics in your university.

Priority groups for immunisation - Who are our priorities for this campaign?

If you fall into one of the groups below, you need MMR vaccine. Please come along to one of our vaccination clinics.

  • Were you born in the UK between 1980 and 1992?

    If yes, you will NOT have had 2 doses of MMR vaccine as part of the USUAL childhood vaccination schedule NOR will you have had the chance of being naturally infected with mumps as a child.
  • Are you an international student?

    If yes, your own country's vaccination programme may or may not have included MMR and the pattern of natural mumps disease in your country is likely to be quite different from here in the UK.
  • Have you only had one dose of MMR?

    Providing it was at least 1 month ago you can have a second.
  • Confused or unsure about vaccination history?

    Check with your parents or guardians. If you are unable to find out, please come to the MMR clinic and we will advise you.

If you fall into one of the two groups below, you DO NOT need MMR vaccine.

You have had two doses of MMR vaccine OR have had actual Mumps disease.

Where do I get MMR vaccine?

Oxford Brookes ran vaccination sessions in Semester 1. If you were unable to attend but are in a vulnerable group, see above, your own GP should be able to provide the MMR vaccine as part of this campaign.

Why give the MMR vaccine to protect against mumps?

Although most people will get over mumps without too many problems, a small number may go on to develop serious complications. These complications can include:

  • Central nervous system involvement - meningitis/encephalitis (1 in 200-5000 cases). The more severe encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) occurs in between 1 in 400 to 1 in 6000 cases (just over 1 in 100 people will die of this severe infection).
  • Orchitis (inflammation of the testis) in up to 20% of males who acquire infection after puberty. There is no hard evidence to suggest that sterility (inability to have children) occurs.
  • Oophritis (inflammation of the ovaries) in 5% of females who acquire infection after puberty. There is no hard evidence to suggest that sterility (inability to have children) occurs.
  • Profound deafness in one ear occurs in 1 in 15000 cases.
  • Inflammation of other organs eg. pancreas, kidneys and thyroid occur rarely.

Why are we suddenly getting outbreaks of mumps when everyone should have been immunised as young children?

  • MMR was introduced in the UK in 1988. Prior to this, children were given single measles and rubella vaccines only – there was no licensed mumps vaccine available at that time. Before MMR was introduced, most people living in the UK were exposed to circulating mumps by the age of 6 years. Therefore, people born before 1982 are likely to have been exposed naturally.
  • A second dose of MMR was introduced to the pre-school booster in 1996 and so children born since around 1992 will have had two doses. There has never been a policy to offer this vaccine in schools. In theory, this leaves a group of children/adolescents aged from about 12 to 22, who are unlikely to have been exposed naturally and who may not have received any MMR vaccine at all or only one dose. However, in practice national and local data show an increase in cases in those born between 1980 and 1992.

There was an MR immunisation in 1994 - what does this mean?

  • There was a national immunisation catch up campaign in 1994 where children aged between 5 to 16 at that time were immunised with measles and rubella (not for mumps) in response to small outbreaks of measles.
  • Children who had this MR vaccine are likely to have missed the introduction of the MMR vaccine in 1988.

Vaccine cautions and side effects

If I have an egg allergy can I still have the vaccine?

  • There is now evidence to show that over 99% of people who are allergic to egg can safely receive the MMR vaccine. Allergy to egg is therefore not a contraindication to MMR.

However, if a person has had anaphylaxis after eating food containing egg, arrangements can be made for the person to be vaccinated as a day case at the local hospital (anaphlylaxis is the most severe form of allergy resulting in tongue swelling and/or breathing difficulties).

Are there any situations where MMR should definitely not be given?

The following groups of people should not receive MMR vaccine:

  • Pregnant women should not have the MMR.
  • Women planning to become pregnant within the next month. Pregnancy should be avoided for one month post vaccination
  • People with untreated malignant disease or altered immunity and those receiving immunosuppresive drugs or radiotherapy, or high dose corticosteroids (patients who use steroid inhalers for asthma can be receive MMR).
  • People who have received another live vaccine (for example BCG, Yellow Fever, Varicella Zoster) by injection within the last 3 weeks (In these people, MMR vaccination should be postponed for 3 weeks).
  • People with allergies to gelatin, neomycin or kanamycin. An isolated allergy to penicillin is not a contraindication to MMR vaccination.
  • People with an acute febrile illness. In these people, vaccination should be postponed until well.
  • People who have had an immunoglobulin injection within 3 months.

What are the side effects of the MMR vaccine?

  • There may be soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site
  • Because MMR vaccine contains attenuated viruses that cause the actual diseases, mild symptoms of the disease can occur. Many people will have no symptoms at all. Symptoms can include:
    • A very mild form of measles with rash (1 in 10), fever (about 1 in 15), loss of appetite and general feeling of being unwell for 2 to 3 days.
    • More rarely (1 in 50) a person may develop a mild form of mumps with swelling of the parotid about 3 weeks after the immunisation, this only lasts a day or two.
    • One to three weeks after the first dose there may be pain, stiffness or swelling in one or more joints because of the rubella component, this usually lasts up to three days
  • As with any vaccine there is a small risk of allergy.
  • Because the MMR vaccine is a live vaccine, in theory it is possible for it to cause any illness that has been linked to the natural disease. However these illnesses (such as convulsions, meningitis/encephalitis and conditions affecting blood clotting) are likely to be milder and occur much less often than after the actual disease
  • If any symptoms are experienced post vaccine the sufferer is not infectious to anyone else.

If a person had an adverse reaction to the first dose of MMR vaccine can they still have the second?

  • After a second dose of MMR vaccine adverse reactions are less common than after the first dose.
  • Unless the person suffered a diagnosed anaphylactic reaction (see anaphylaxis description above) to the first dose it is likely that they can safely have the second dose. Any specific questions with regard to this should be discussed with your GP.

Where do I get further information?


The Medical Centre