Medical Q&As

MMR - single measles vaccine?

My daughter is due the MMR. My real concern is to have her vaccinated against measles. Is there a single measles vaccine available?

There is a single measles vaccine available but it is not readily available. Your GP would have to make special arrangements to obtain the single measles vaccine assuming that he or she was prepared to administer the vaccine. If your daughter only receives the measles vaccine then she would not be immunised against rubella or German measles. This could have serious consequences for her in future years particularly if she desires to become pregnant. Rubella can cause serious congenital abnormalities to the foetus, which can result in the death of the foetus or life-long disability if the foetus survives to term. Therefore I would urge that you also consider having your daughter vaccinated against rubella. There has been so much confusing information on the subject of MMR that many parents have not brought their children for vaccination against measles, rubella and mumps. Some parents fear that the combination vaccine might somehow overload the child’s immune system, which may appear to be plausible but is not borne out by the facts. The MMR vaccine contains 24 different antigens, which is a lesser number of antigens than were present in several of the other childhood vaccines that we were using up to recent years. In other words there is less antigen load in this triple vaccine than was present in the older vaccines. There is also a strong body of evidence that vaccines strengthen the immune system and not weaken it. Children who have been vaccinated tend to suffer from fewer viral and bacterial infections than non-vaccinated children apart altogether from the specific protection they have received from the particular vaccine. You might find it informative to access the website of the NDSC (National Disease Surveillance Centre) in order to read more about single vaccines versus MMR. This information can be accessed at: http://www.ndsc.ie/DiseaseFacts/Vaccination/d310.HTML.html