MMR catch-up

The best protection against measles is two doses of the MMR vaccine. This also protects against mumps and rubella.

Many young people and young adults missed out on these immunisations as children. 

If you’re not sure whether you have had two doses of MMR it's recommended you get vaccinated. MMR immunisation is free for anyone born after 1 January 1969. 

You can get the vaccine at:

  • your doctor’s clinic
  • participating pharmacies (if you're 16 or older)
  • Measles is a very infectious virus. Before immunisation was introduced, nearly all children caught measles. Measles causes a rash, high fever, runny nose, cough and sore watery eyes. Severe cases can result in pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling in the brain), diarrhoea and rarely, death.

  • Mumps is caused by a virus and is spread through the air. Mumps causes fever, headache and swelling of the glands around the face. In males mumps can cause swelling of the testicles and in rare cases, infertility. Mumps can also cause meningitis and encephalitis (swelling in the brain).

  • Rubella is usually a mild, viral illness. It causes a rash, fever and swollen glands in children. It is extremely dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause deafness, blindness and brain damage in an unborn baby.

The best protection is two doses of the MMR vaccine which protects against measles, mumps and rubella. It works by causing the body to make antibodies that fight these diseases. If an immunised person comes into contact with any of these diseases, the antibodies in their blood will fight these viruses and help protect against being infected.

Two doses of MMR will protect 99% of people against measles and rubella, and around 85% of people from mumps. A small number of people who are immunised may still become ill. If that happens, they usually get a milder illness than people who have not been immunised.

Check with your local doctor and/or your Plunket book (if you still have it!)

Most young people will have been given at least one dose of MMR in early childhood. However, changes to the Immunisation Schedule in 2001 and less effective reminder systems before 2005 mean that many teenagers and young adults have not had the two doses to be fully protected. If you have come from overseas, including the Pacific Islands, you may have had different vaccines that may not protect you against measles, mumps and rubella.

If you’re not sure whether you have had two doses of MMR, it's recommended you get vaccinated. It's completely safe to be vaccinated again if you aren't sure.

Last updated 22.11.2022

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