Australia’s trusted independent immunisation experts

Will the MMR or MMRV vaccine weaken my child's immune system?

Vaccines do not weaken or overwhelm the immune system.9 All vaccines strengthen the immune system by inducing protection against specific diseases and there is some evidence that vaccines containing weakened live viruses may provide enhanced immunity against other infections as well.10 

Is there any proof of a link between autism, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and the MMR vaccine?

The MMR vaccine does not cause inflammatory bowel disease or autism.

The media reported that there was a link between MMR and autism following the publication of a paper by Andrew Wakefield in The Lancet (a medical journal) in 1998.11 However, in 2010, Wakefield’s study was discredited and The Lancet published a retraction.12  

A number of extensive, high-quality studies have tested Wakefield's proposed theory of MMR vaccine leading to gut inflammation, decreased absorption of nutrients and thus contributing to developmental disorders such as autism. These studies have compared large numbers of both vaccinated and unvaccinated children and have concluded there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism. The best studies have looked at autism and MMR vaccination in over half a million children born in Denmark over a number of years.13,14 

If you would like more detailed information on autism and MMR, click on the links below:

•    NCIRS fact sheet – MMR vaccine, inflammatory bowel disease and autism 
•    Further evidence of MMR vaccine safety – Annals of Internal Medicine review 2019  
•    Immunization Action Coalition – MMR vaccine does not cause autism 

Should my child have separate vaccines?

It is not recommended that children receive separate measles, mumps and rubella vaccines. 

In Australia, only rubella and varicella vaccines are available separately. Measles and mumps vaccines are only available in MMR vaccine.  

Giving a child separate vaccines means more injections. This is associated with more pain and more chance of minor side effects occurring with no benefit to the child. Spacing out the separate  injections also leaves children exposed to getting the diseases.

What are other Australian parents doing?

Approximately 95% of Australian parents get their child vaccinated with the first dose of MMR vaccine due at 12 months of age, and approximately 92% the second dose due at 18 months of age.15  Because measles is so infectious, 95% of people need to be vaccinated with two doses of measles-containing vaccine to stop the spread of measles. Although Australia does not have any 'home grown' measles, measles outbreaks are common in many countries overseas and cases of measles are regularly ‘imported’ to  Australia.

Copyright NCIRS 2019 - Last updated 20 September 2019

 

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