Mild or intermediate reactions to MMR
Most children who have the MMR vaccine do not have any problems with it or if reactions do occur they are usually mild. (See 'No reactions to MMR'.) The risk of the MMR vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.
The overwhelming majority of parents believe in immunisation for their children. We have however included here the views of a few parents who do not believe immunisation is right for their own child based on their personal beliefs. Their views represent a small proportion of the population.
The most likely reactions after having the MMR vaccine are mild symptoms that are like the diseases that the immunisations protect children from, such as a mild rash, and a mild fever. They usually last for a short duration and are not infectious to others.
Mild reactions such as fever (up to 1 person out of 6), mild rash (about 1 person out of 20 can occur. If these problems occur, it is usually within 7-12 days after the injection. Swelling of the glands in the cheeks or neck can also occur two to three weeks after the injection but it is rare.
Intermediate reactions can occur such as a febrile convulsion (a fit) (about 1 out of 3,000 doses), a febrile fit can happen with a fever from any cause and is treated by keeping the child cool, temporary low platelet count, which can cause a bleeding disorder (about 1 out of 30,000 doses) if this occurs seek hospital specialist advice.
A small number of parents we interviewed mentioned that their child had a small swelling where the injection was given that had disappeared quickly. One mother said her son had a mild rash during the week after his MMR vaccine, which went after twenty-four hours.
Her son had a mild rash a few days after his MMR vaccine, it disappeared within twenty-four hours.
And when he had the, the rash what were your'describe to me about that and what you did?
I was fine with it. I know other mothers that babies have had the rash. And it was just on his trunk, it was very pale, I just saw it in the bath. I think it had faded by the morning. I had the leaflet. The leaflet was good, you know, I read that over and over again to check. And they said, and it was exactly when they said, you know, two or three days after the injection he had it, and he did and it went and he was fine. And, and that was it. And I think, I think really within the next sort of week I just did forget about it. And now I'm, I mean I'm just relieved I did it. I'm relieved he's, he's okay.
A couple of mothers recalled that their daughters had been irritable or down in the dumps for a few days, which had worried them at first. But these reactions had passed and they had returned to being their normal selves.
Her daughter was very irritable after her MMR vaccine but she returned to normal after twelve to...
So really, and then like as, the next months went on I was still kind of looking at her and thinking, 'Oh, is, is she OK with this? Has she been affected?' And then as the months went by and then you thought, 'Oh, it's fine, everything's OK.'
Her daughter had been a little under the weather for a few days after her MMR vaccine.
And they warn you that straight away afterwards they might, even if it's just a small bump to the arm or, or raised skin and or some redness and swelling. But luckily for us our daughter didn't react too badly, maybe a little tired, more tired than usual.
She was unwell for a few days afterwards, but nothing you could pinpoint. She didn't come out in a great big rash, and she didn't have swollen glands all round her neck. But the only way I could describe it was that she just wasn't 100 per cent. She just wasn't herself. But at the same time she was teething so it's, it's hard to, hard to tell. But definitely a different little girl, but not, you know, she still ate, she still drank, she still did all the things you expected her to do, she still slept, but just maybe was a bit under the weather is probably the best way of putting it.
We did not interview any parent whose child had an intermediate reaction to the MMR vaccine as listed above.
One mother we interviewed talked about the unusually strong local reaction her children had after the second dose of MMR. This reaction was extremely rare. In her son's case, swelling which started in the arm where the injection was given spread across his chest and he had to be in hospital on antibiotics for three days.
Her son had an unusually strong local reaction to the second dose of the MMR vaccine, which is a...
Went to see the GP, she gave him some antihistamines. She said it's just a reaction, he's had. Came home, he had another night of it really bad, screaming, crying and it was just huge, his arm was just huge... couldn't move, couldn't do a thing.
The next day I had to take my daughter somewhere, my mum watched him here. I came back after about an hour and a half and he'd been laid on the kitchen floor because it's tiles, it's cold. His arm was oozing fluid from blisters. Just blistered, tight, and he was distraught. He was only four year old, he was absolutely distraught. I rang the doctor's and, I wasn't hysterical but they were, 'Well you've missed the emergency appointment time or whatever it is.' And I was, 'Well I'm going to see, I'm going straight to casualty and I'm telling them that you wouldn't speak to me, you know, you wouldn't see the doctor or any, my child or anything.' So they got me in to see the doctor again and she just wrote me a letter to say that he needs to be in hospital. So, I went to casualty and they kept him in then, which was horrible.
And he was in, how long was in there?
Three days. On a very high dose of antibiotics. Because they didn't, they didn't think that he could react to a vaccine like that. They didn't understand why, they thought it were infection. I don't know where they thought it had come from, I don't know.
Last reviewed October 2015
Last updated October 2015