MMR, or measles, mumps and rubella vaccine

The vaccine gives protection against measles, mumps and rubella as well as the secondary diseases caused by them, including pneumonia and meningitis.
Vaccine-preventable diseases

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To whom is the MMR vaccine administered?

All children and adults must have immunity against measles, mumps and rubella, either through having had the disease or protection provided by MMR vaccinations. 

The MMR vaccine should be administered if a person is not fully protected against one of these diseases. The vaccine is part of the national vaccination programme and free for everyone.

It is particularly important to ensure that the following groups have protection against the MMR diseases:

  • healthcare personnel
  • foreign students
  • immigrant children and adolescents
  • those born in Finland between 1965 and 1975.

If a person has not had the MMR diseases or received two doses of the MMR vaccine, their protection should be complemented. If the situation is unclear, administer the vaccine.

The MMR vaccines of the national vaccination programme may also be used for vaccinations referred to in section 48 of the Communicable Diseases Act.

How do I determine if a person is protected against the MMR diseases?

  • Most of those born before 1970 have immunity produced by MMR diseases they had as children.
  • The protection of those born between 1965 and 1975 may be inadequate, as some of them have not had measles, mumps or rubella. Especially women may be inadequately protected.
  • Almost all of those born in or after 1975 have received the MMR vaccination at the child health clinic or school.
  • Some of the older age groups have been given the vaccination at a nurse training institute or maternity hospital, or while doing their military service.

Also note

An MMR vaccine called Triviraten was used between 1992 and 2004 to vaccinate children strongly allergic to eggs. It later turned out that Triviraten does not give adequate protection against mumps. Those who have had one or two doses of Triviraten vaccine should be administered a single additional dose of an MMR vaccine (Priorix or M-M-RVAXPRO) to boost their protection against mumps.

Which vaccine is used and what does it contain?

Products called Priorix and M-M-RVAXPRO are used in the national programme.

  • They contain live, attenuated measles, mumps and rubella viruses cultivated in chicken embryo and human cells.
  • The excipients are sugars, salts, amino acids, pH indicator dye and purified water.
  • M-M-RVAXPRO contains gelatine as an excipient.
  • The vaccines do not contain significant amounts of egg protein (ovalbumin).
  • They only contain traces of neomycin.
  • The vaccines do not contain adjuvants.

Dosage and schedule

A single dose of the vaccine is 0.5 ml.

The primary vaccination series consists of two doses. The first dose is administered at the age of 12 to 18 months, preferably as soon as the child reaches 12 months. The second dose is given at the age of six years.

If a child intends to travel abroad, a healthcare professional may consider administering an additional MMR vaccine dose ahead of schedule. 

The summary of product characteristics indicates that the MMR vaccine can be used from the age of 9 months up. However, THL, WHO and the authorities in many countries recommend administering the vaccination from the age of 6 months up if the risk of contracting the infection is assessed to be high, for example due to a measles outbreak or measles cases repeatedly occurring in the country. 

If the vaccine is administered to a child aged under 11 months, it is regarded as an additional dose. In this case, the child will also need a dose of the MMR vaccine at the ages of 12 to 18 months and 6 years. The interval between the additional dose and the first dose included in the vaccination programme should preferably be 6 months. If a child has received an additional dose at the age of 9 months, for example, the following dose should be administered at the approximate age of 15 months. 

If a child, adolescent or adult has had no MMR diseases or received no MMR vaccinations it is recommended that two MMR vaccines are administered with an interval of at least six months but preferably 2 to 3 years.

If the series of primary vaccinations has not been completed in childhood, it should be supplemented.

What are the contraindications and precautions associated with the vaccine?

Familiarise yourself with the contraindications and precautions associated with the MMR vaccine before you administer it.
What are the contraindications and precautions associated with the vaccine?

What are the benefits of the MMR vaccine?

Thanks to the MMR vaccine, measles, mumps and rubella cases have been all but eradicated in Finland. 

Individual cases of measles and mumps have been reported in persons who have contracted these infection abroad and persons close to them, however no more than 0 to 5 cases a year.

Many previously widespread secondary diseases of measles, mumps and rubella have been eradicated, including

  • pneumonia requiring hospitalisation 
  • meningitis and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
  • orchitis (inflammation of the testicles)
  • congenital rubella syndromes
  • other milder complications.

What are the potential adverse effects of the MMR vaccine?

All vaccines may have adverse effects, but they are usually transient and only occur in a small proportion of the vaccine recipients. 
What are the potential adverse effects of the MMR vaccine?

History of the MMR vaccine in the national vaccination programme

MMR vaccinations were started in 1982 with a two-dose programme, where the first dose was administered at the age of 14 to 18 months and the second to 6-year-olds. 

Since 2011 the first dose has been administered at the age of 12 to 18 months. 

The MMR vaccine has also been administered to 

  • mothers of newborn infants who were rubella antibody negative between 1982 and 1993 
  • at nurse training institutes to those with inadequate immunisation 
  • all those doing their military service between 1986 and 2000 
  • those with inadequate protection doing their military service since 2012, and 
  • in 1988, to children aged from 11 to 13 at school if they had not had their second dose of the MMR vaccine.

A monovalent measles vaccine was administered to 1-year-olds at child health clinics between 1975 and 1982. 

A monovalent mumps vaccine was administered to those doing their military service between 1960 and 1985. 

A monovalent rubella vaccine was administered at school to girls aged from 11 to 13 between 1975 and 1988 and to mothers of newborn infants at the maternity hospital in the same period.