FAQ2 - Questions about the safety of MMR vaccine

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

Vaccines do not weaken or overwhelm the immune system.8 Vaccines strengthen the immune system by inducing protection against specific diseases of children and adults. Multiple studies have demonstrated that vaccinated children are at no greater risk of infection from everyday viruses or bacteria.2

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 Dr Andrew Wakefield in The Lancet (a medical journal) in 1998.9 However, in 2010, Wakefield’s study was discredited and The Lancet published a retraction.10 The scientific community does not recognise any published evidence of MMR vaccination being linked to autism.

A number of extensive, high quality studies have tested Dr 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 looked at autism and MMR vaccination in 537,303 children born in Denmark and 300,000 children born in Japan over a number of years.11-13

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

Should my child have separate vaccines?

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

In Australia, separate measles and mumps vaccines are not available. Only the rubella vaccine is available separately.

Giving a child separate vaccines means they have to get six injections instead of just two. They have more pain and more chance of minor side effects occurring. Spacing the separate measles, mumps and rubella injections by 12 months leaves children exposed to getting the diseases.

What are other Australian parents doing?

Approximately 94% of Australian parents get their child vaccinated with the MMR vaccine at 12 months of age.14

Ninety-five percent of people need to be vaccinated to stop the spread of measles in Australia.2

Copyright NCIRS 2009 - Last updated 14 June 2013