Highly infectious virus spread by droplets; causes fever, cough and rash.

Effects of the disease

One in 15 children with measles develops pneumonia and one in 1,000 develops encephalitis (brain inflammation).

For every 10 children who develop encephalitis, one dies and up to four have permanent brain damage. About one in 100,000 develops brain degeneration, which is always fatal.

How to immunise and when

The combination measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine provides protection against Measles and is given at 12 months of age. The combination measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine is given at 18 months of age.

While the vaccine should not be given to pregnant women, it is safe to vaccinate children who are in contact with pregnant women.

Side effects of immunisation

The most common reaction is feeling unwell and having a low grade fever, possibly with a rash, occurring 7-10 days after immunisation and lasting approximately two to three days.

More serious reactions are rare. Thrombocytopenia (bleeding or bruising) is very rarely associated with the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, occurring in three to five per 100 000 doses of vaccine administered.

If you have any concerns about side effects of vaccines, talk to your doctor or nurse.

Page last updated: 10 Aug 2017