The MMR vaccination protects against mumps, measles and rubella. Children receive the MMR vaccination at 14 months, and a repeat vaccination at 9 years. It is possible to get the MMR vaccination sooner, for example if you are planning to travel outside the Netherlands.

The MMR vaccination in summary

Protects against Mumps, measles, rubella
Given at 14 months and 9 years
Period of protection Probably lifelong for measles and rubella,unclear for mumps
Most common side effects Headache, rash or symptoms at the injection site, such as a red, swollen or painful arm.  In addition, children at the age of 14 months may also be feverish and sleepy.

When to get the MMR vaccination

Children get the vaccination from the age of 12 months, because that is when it is most effective. Before then, children still have their mother’s antibodies. These antibodies slowly disappear and are completely gone after 1 year. 

After the first vaccination, 95% of the children are protected. However, the vaccination is ineffective for the other 5%. That is why children get vaccinated again when they are 9 years old. That way, nearly all children are able to produce antibodies. After the second vaccination, 99% of the children are protected.

Side effect of the MMR vaccination at 14 months

When? From 5 days tot 3 weeks after vaccination
Happens often
  • Children are often listless or tearful after vaccination. They may also develop a fever or a rash. These side effects resemble a mild form of mumps, measles or rubella.
  • The injection site may be red, swollen or sore.
Happens sometimes
  • A febrile seizure, often 5 to 12 days after vaccination (1 in 5,000 to 10,000 children). This can happen if a fever rises very fast. The child may twitch or shake their arms and legs, or become unconscious.
  • Bruises or bleeding more often than usual (1 in 20,000 children). This usually goes away within a few weeks.
  • Temporary joint problems (very occasionally). These will go away on their own. They are unrelated to chronic joint problems such as rheumatism or arthritis.
Good to know Your child cannot infect others after their MMR vaccination.

Side effect of the MMR vaccination at 9 years

When? From 5 days to 3 weeks after vaccination
Happens often
  • Children often get a headache or rash, and may sometimes get a fever. These side effects resemble a mild form of mumps, measles or rubella.
  • The injection site may be red, swollen or sore.
Happens sometimes
  • Temporary joint problems (very occasionally). These will go away on their own. They are unrelated to chronic joint problems such as rheumatism or arthritis.
  • Occasionally, a child passes out after vaccination. This is generally because they are anxious about the injection, rather than a reaction to anything in the vaccine.
Good to know Your child cannot infect others after their MMR vaccination.

Nervous about side effects

Can the MMR vaccination cause autism, diabetes, appendicitis or any other disease? Thankfully, no. This has been confirmed through research by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centre for Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and other organisations in the Netherlands and elsewhere. Still, some parents wonder if it is better for their child to get mumps, measles or rubella, or to get vaccinated. After having had the measles, a child’s overall immunity is reduced for 2 to 3 years. Even if the child did not become very ill from measles, they may be more prone to other, more serious diseases after that. 

The MMR vaccine contains a weakened form of the mumps, measles and rubella viruses. These weakened viruses will not make you ill, but they will put your immune system to work. 

The page ‘What is in vaccines?’ provides more information on what is in vaccines.

The page ‘How does vaccination work?’ provides information on how vaccinations work.

Is your child:

  • older than 6 months, 
  • younger than 14 months, 
  • and are you travelling abroad? 

Please consult with your GP or the well-baby clinic. Measles have not yet been eradicated in every country, which means that children may catch measles before they are vaccinated. For that reason, children are sometimes given their MMR vaccination ahead of schedule. If your child gets the MMR vaccination before their 1st birthday, they will need an additional vaccination later on to ensure effective long-term protection.

Recommendations for MMR vaccination in Europe and beyond

The following recommendations   apply to countries in Europe and beyond. Situations abroad are monitored and recommendations are updated if necessary. 
See also the CDC page on global measles outbreaks.  

Recommendations on early MMR vaccination when travelling within Europe

Since July 2023, the recommendation for early MMR vaccination in Europe is as follows:

  • Romania, Ukraine, Northern Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina: give MMR vaccination ahead of schedule. See the list of MMR countries.
  • Other countries in Europe: MMR vaccination according to schedule. The risk of getting measles in other European countries is minimal, similar to the Netherlands.

Recommendations on early MMR vaccination when travelling outside Europe

Measles are common in many non-Western parts of the world. When travelling to countries in those regions, it is advisable to get an early MMR vaccination. See the list of MMR countries. If you are not sure if your child needs an early MMR vaccination, you can always consult the well-baby clinic.

If you also have questions about other vaccinations that you need when travelling outside the Netherlands, consult the National Coordination Centre for Travellers Advice (LCR)  website (in Dutch). The LCR website includes information on which vaccinations are advisable and where to make an appointment in your area.

If you are ill, please contact the organisation that will give the vaccination. You can ask them if vaccination is a good idea. Sometimes the vaccination may be postponed for a bit. The vaccination is safe for children with reduced immunity. 

Can children with impaired immunity get the MMR vaccination?

Children with impaired immunity as a result of illness or medication should not be given the MMR vaccine. It can make them ill, because their body cannot properly clear the virus. Children with these health conditions always have their case supervised by a treating paediatrician, who can provide more information.