How to get vaccinated

If you've not had 2 doses of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine:

Why do I need to get vaccinated?

If you're not vaccinated, you're not protected.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has declared a national incident. This means cases of measles are on the rise in England and there is a growing public health risk. Measles is a highly infectious disease and spreads very easily among those who are not vaccinated, especially in nurseries and schools. Measles can be a very unpleasant illness and in some children can be very serious, leading to hospitalisation and tragically even death in rare cases. People in certain at-risk groups including babies and young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immunity, are at increased risk of complications from measles.

There’s no specific medical treatment for measles, so it’s important to get the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine as it’s the best protection against becoming seriously unwell. The MMR vaccine is free for everyone at any age, and is a safe and effective way of protecting against measles, as well as mumps and rubella. Having 2 doses of the MMR vaccine will give lifelong protection. Over 99% of those who have 2 doses of the MMR vaccine will be protected against measles and rubella, and the vaccine also protects against mumps.

MMR vaccine is one of the routine childhood vaccinations, so most children are already vaccinated against measles. If your child has received both doses of the vaccine, they are unlikely to have the virus.

How to protect yourself against measles

This section contains popular questions about how to protect yourself against measles.

What is the best way to protect against measles?

Getting both doses of the MMR vaccine is the safest and most effective way to protect against measles for both children and adults.

Children are offered a vaccine on the NHS at 12 months old and then a second dose when they turn 3 years and 4 months old. But you can catch up at any age if you or your child haven't yet been vaccinated.

You can request a version of the MMR vaccine that does not contain pork products from your GP, making it suitable for all faiths. Please note that the practice may need to order this product in specially, so it will be helpful to tell them your views before the appointment.

Who can get the vaccine?

We are prioritising people under the age of 30 who are not vaccinated as they are most at risk. We are also prioritising people between the ages of 30-55 who are working in health and social care settings and, staff and individuals working in high-risk areas such as schools, nurseries and GP practices. People over the age of 30 should contact their GP to get vaccinated.

It’s best to have vaccines on time, but you can still catch up on most vaccines if you miss them. 2 doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure full protection.

If my child is under 3 years of age when should they have their vaccinations?

If your child is under 3 years of age and missed their first vaccine they should have it now and then the second vaccine at 3 years and 4 months.

If my child is aged over 3 years and 4 months when should they have their vaccinations?

If your child is aged over 3 years and 4 months and hasn't had their vaccination they should have their first vaccine now and then the second vaccine after 1 month.

If I am an adult, when should I have my vaccine?

Adults can have the vaccines a month apart.

Is the vaccine halal?

You can request a porcine gelatine-free vaccine.

Can I have a separate vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella?

Individual vaccines are not available. The combined MMR vaccine is extremely safe and effective.

Can I get vaccinated if I'm pregnant?

If you’re pregnant and you have been in close contact with someone who has measles, you should ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111.

As a precaution, the MMR vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.

Children in school

This section contains popular questions for those with children in school.

Should I still send my child to school if they have cold-like symptoms?

Cold-like symptoms can be an early sign of measles. If your child has been vaccinated, it’s very unlikely that they have measles. School attendance is vitally important to your child’s learning and health.

According to the NHS, its fine to send your child to school with a minor cough or common cold, provided they don’t have a temperature of 38C or above.

What should I do if my child has been diagnosed with measles?

If your child has been diagnosed with measles, they should stay off nursery or school for at least 4 days from when the rash first appears. They should also avoid close contact with babies and anyone who is pregnant or has a weakened immune system.

Anyone who has been vaccinated is unlikely to be considered susceptible.

Should you keep your child off school if another pupil has been diagnosed with measles?

Your local Health Protection Team will tell you if your child has been in contact with someone with measles and will let you know what the next steps are.


This section contains popular questions about what to do if you get symptoms.

What are the symptoms of measles?

Measles usually starts with cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash a few days later.

Some people may also get small spots in their mouths.

If I develop a fever and a rash, what should I do?

If you're isolating because you're a contact of a case of measles, and develop a fever or rash you should isolate for 4 days from when the rash starts. You should also phone 111 or your GP and tell them you have symptoms of measles and were a contact of a case. Do not attend healthcare settings whilst infectious as this could spread the virus to others.

If you think you or your child may have measles, to stop the virus spreading, you should:

  • Stay at home and phone your GP for an urgent appointment (don’t go to the GP or any other healthcare setting without calling ahead first as measles spreads very quickly and easily and it's important to prevent the illness from spreading further); or
  • Call 111; or
  • Get help from 111 online

Measles usually starts to get better in about a week. Find out how to look after yourself or your child on the NHS website.

Vaccination status

This section contains popular questions about your vaccination status.

How do I know if my child or I have been vaccinated?

If you're not sure if you've had 2 doses of the MMR vaccine, you should:

  • Check your personal child health record (red book) that is used to record your child's weight and height, vaccinations and other important information. More about the red book.

  • Contact your GP practice in the usual way.

Do I have to provide details of my vaccination status to my employer?

Employers cannot force employees, unless in certain professions such as some healthcare settings, to provide their vaccination status as this is classed as personal information. However, it can be helpful for employers to know how many staff might need to be vaccinated in a workplace. This is because measles spreads very quickly amongst those who are not vaccinated, and vaccination is the best way to protect both yourself and others.

Immunity and protection

How full is the immunity after one dose of the vaccine?

Around 95% effective.

How long after the vaccine do you have immunity?

Around 2 weeks.

More information on measles

A video of Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA, Dr Colin Campbell, explains who can have the MMR vaccine and why the World Health Organization (WHO) has set an MMR vaccination target of 95% of the population.

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