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DR. DAWN HARPER MMR

DR. DAWN HARPER | MMR


VACCINATIONS COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MMR VACCINATION My daughter didn’t have her first MMR vaccine last year and now I am worried because a child at nursery has been diagnosed with measles. What are the signs and how can I protect her? Measles has an incubation period of one to two weeks and the first symptoms are the same as a common cold, namely a fever, runny nose and dry cough. If you look in your child’s mouth you may see small white spots on the lining of the cheeks called Koplik’s spots. Two or three days later brownish-red spots appear usually behind the ears to start and then spread over the face and torso often merging together. There’s no doubt that the best way to protect your daughter is to have her vaccinated and it’s not too late, contact your doctor who will advise you on when she can be vaccinated. My baby girl is due her first jabs. My other two children are at school so it’s a while since I did this. I have just discovered that my daughter will be given an extra jab. Is it really safe to give so many vaccines at once and can I insist they be given further apart? I am often asked in surgery about the safety of multiple vaccines. In fact babies are exposed to thousands of bugs every day which challenge their immune system more than if we gave all the childhood vaccines on one day. In theory, a baby’s immune system is so robust it could cope with 10,000 vaccines all at once and giving them at longer intervals only leaves them unvaccinated and at risk for longer. The extra

DR. DAWN HARPER | MMR 2/3

vaccine is against pneumococcus which can cause meningitis and pneumonia in small babies. It is a serious disease – one child in every five children who develop pneumococcal meningitis actually dies from the infection. Can I get MMR as single jabs? There has been a lot of interest in single vaccines but they are not licensed in the UK and no country in the world recommends them. In fact there is an argument that giving them could put children at increased risk of developing measles, mumps or rubella in the gaps between the vaccines. I know parents worry about overloading the immune system but in fact a baby’s immune system can cope.


WHAT IS THE MMR JAB Soon after a baby’s first birthday, parents will be invited to take them for the first of two MMR jabs, given at 13 months old, and then again anywhere between three years four months and five.

Over 500 million doses of the vaccination have been given out worldwide, and Britain is not the only supporter - the World Health Organisation state that the MMR vaccination is not only highly effective, but also has an outstanding safety record.

Many parents will be very aware of the MMR jab, and unfortunately much of this awareness is born out of the negative column inches that are The MMR jab is safe, but we shouldn’t forget written, linking the jab to autism or bowel disease. that the diseases it protects against are not! You As both a GP and a mother, I have had a vested only have to meet one child born deaf, blind and interest in carefully looking at all of the interest, and have also spoken directly to the doctor responsible for the initial mentally handicapped as a result of congenital rubella research that sparked the controversy. to be reminded of just how tragic these illnesses can The long and short of it is that there be. All three of my children had both doses of MMR and simply isn’t any evidence to support a although they are at school now, I would make the same link between autism and inflammatory decision today. bowel disease, and the MMR vaccination. MUMPS, MEASLES AND RUBELLA (MMR) Mumps

Rubella (German Measles)

Mumps can take three weeks from infection to the development of fever and swollen glands around the jaw. Most are better within 7 – 10 days but the older the child is, the more likely they are to develop complications such as meningitis or orchitis (swelling and inflammation of the testicles). One in 25 will develop deafness and some never completely recover.

German measles can take up to three weeks between contracting the virus and developing the classic symptoms of a mild flu like illness followed by a pink rash which typically spreads from behind the ears to all over the body within a few hours. It’s important to remember that a child with rubella is infectious anytime from a week before the rash develops until a week after it has gone.

Measles

Most recover quickly but one in 6000 develop inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and if a woman is infected during early pregnancy the baby may be severely brain damaged and could be born deaf or blind or with heart problems. D

Thankfully most children that catch measles simply develop a fever and a pink rash about 14 days after becoming infected, which starts behind the ears and the spreads over the whole body in a couple of days. Lots of TLC and regular paracetamol and a week later they should be better. As soon as the temperature and the rash have gone they can go back to school. About one in 200 cases develop fits and one in 1000 develop inflammation of the brain or its covering (encephalitis or meningitis) which can cause brain damage, and one in 5000 will die from the infection. DR. DAWN HARPER | MMR 3/3


MMR Factsheet