• Measles

    Measles is a serious and highly contagious viral disease which causes fever, rash, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes. Measles can sometimes lead to dangerous complications such as pneumonia. About one child in 2,000 who contracts measles will develop inflammation of the brain. For every ten children who become affected in this way, one will die and four will have permanent brain damage.

    Measles can be caught through coughs and sneezes from an infected person.

    Measles still causes deaths in Australian children. A rare condition called SSPE can develop in children several years after a measles infection. SSPE rapidly destroys the brain and is always fatal.

  • Mumps

    Mumps causes fever, headache and inflammation of the salivary glands. Occasionally it causes an infection of the membrane covering the brain, but permanent side effects are rare. The disease can also cause permanent deafness.

    Mumps can be caught through coughs and sneezes from an infected person.

    About one in five adolescent or adult males who contracts mumps develops a painful inflammation and swelling of the testicles. Males with this condition generally recover completely, but on rare occasions it may cause infertility.

  • Rubella

    This is a mild childhood disease but it can also affect teenagers and adults. The disease causes swollen glands, joint pains and a rash on the face and neck which lasts two to three days. Recovery is always speedy and complete.

    Rubella can be caught through coughs and sneezes from an infected person.

    Rubella is most dangerous when a woman catches it in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. This can result in serious abnormalities in the newborn baby. Deafness, blindness, heart defects and intellectual disabilities can occur.

    Rubella is highly contagious and the best way to protect expectant mothers and their babies is to ensure that women are immunised before they become pregnant, and to immunise all children to stop the spread of this infection.

  • Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) Immunisation

    There are two brands of MMR vaccine currently available, MMR II and Priorix. The MMR vaccine contains small amounts of each of the viruses at a reduced strength and a small amount of an antibiotic. MMR II also contains a small amount of pig gelatin which acts as a stabiliser. Priorix, the other brand of MMR vaccine, does not contain pig gelatin. Components of pig gelatin are used in the early stages of manufacture of this vaccine but are removed in subsequent stages. Those with religious objections to pig products may request the Priorix brand of vaccine.

    The vaccine protects children against all three diseases and is usually given at 12 months of age. A second dose of the vaccine is given between four and five years of age. Anyone with a severe allergy to eggs should seek medical advice before being immunised with MMR vaccine.

    Women of child bearing age, especially those considering pregnancy, should see their doctor and have a blood test for rubella. The blood test will show if another MMR immunisation is needed. If you do require another MMR immunisation, a further blood test should be done after immunisation to ensure that the vaccine has provided protection. Women should not have the vaccine if they are already pregnant or might become pregnant within two months. It is important that women have a rubella blood test before each pregnancy to check that the level of protection is still adequate.

  • Possible Side Effects of MMR

    Reactions to MMR vaccine are much less frequent than the complications of the diseases. The most common reactions are feeling unwell, a low grade fever and possibly a rash around six to eleven days after immunisation. People who develop the rash during this time are not infectious to others.

    Occasionally, the person immunised may develop a mild swelling of the facial glands about three weeks after immunisation from the mumps component of the vaccine.

    More serious reactions to the vaccine, such as inflammation of the brain, are very rare and probably occur at the rate of one in a million doses, or less.

  • Common Side Effects can be Reduced by:
    • Ensuring extra fluids are drunk.
    • Not overdressing.
    • Placing a cold, wet cloth on the sore injection spot.
    • Taking (or giving your child) paracetamol to reduce any discomfort (note the recommended dose for age).

    If reactions are severe or persistent, or if you are worried, contact your doctor or hospital.

  • Pre-Immunisation Checklist

    Before immunisation, tell the doctor or nurse if you or your child:

    1. Have had any other immunisations in the last month.
    2. Are unwell on the day of immunisation.
    3. Have had severe reaction to any vaccine.
    4. Have any severe allergies.
    5. Are taking steroids of any sort (for example, cortisone).
    6. Have had immunoglobulin or a blood transfusion in the last three months.
    7. Have a disease or are having treatment which causes low immunity (for example, leukaemia, cancer, HIV/AIDS, radiotherapy or chemotherapy).
    8. Live with someone who has a disease or is having treatment which causes low immunity (for example, leukaemia, cancer, HIV/AIDS, radiotherapy or chemotherapy).
    9. Have a condition of the central nervous system which is still being investigated.
    10. Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant within two months of immunisation.

    Your doctor or clinic staff should be told about these conditions because immunisation may need to be given differently.

  • Recommended Immunisation Schedule

    Age Immunisation
    2 months
    • Diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis vaccine
    • Oral polio vaccine
    • Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) vaccine* (HibTITER or PedvaxHIB)
    4 months
    • Diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis vaccine
    • Oral polio vaccine
    • Hib vaccine (HibTITER or PedvaxHIB)
    6 months
    • Diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis vaccine
    • Oral polio vaccine
    • Hib vaccine (HibTITER)
    12 months
    • Measles/mumps/rubella vaccine
    • Hib vaccine (PedvaxHIB)
    18 months
    • Diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis vaccine
    • Hib vaccine (HibTITER)
    Prior to School Entry
    4-5 years
    • Diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis vaccine
    • Oral polio vaccine
    • Measles/mumps/rubella vaccine
    Year 7 at school

    one month later

    6 months after 1st dose

    • Hepatitis B vaccine (1st dose)

    • Hepatitis B vaccine (2nd dose)

    • Hepatitis B vaccine (3rd dose)
    Prior to leaving school
    15-19 years
    • Adult diphtheria/tetanus vaccine
    • Oral polio vaccine
    Every 10 years
    • Adult diphtheria/tetanus vaccine
    Post-partum for
    non-immune women
    • Measles/mumps/rubella vaccine or Rubella vaccine
    Over 50 years
    (Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people)
    • Pneumococcal vaccine (every 5 years)
    • Influenza vaccine (annual)
    Over 65 years
    • Pneumococcal vaccine (every 5 years)
    • Influenza vaccine (annual)
    * Children receive EITHER HibTITER at 2, 4, 6 & 18 months OR PedvaxHIB at 2, 4 & 12 months.

    We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the Department of Health & Aged Care to this information.

    Bad Diseases - Good Vaccines - Be Immunised