Measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine

The measles, mumps, rubella (German measles) and varicella (chickenpox) vaccine helps protect you against the following diseases:

  • Measles causes a cough, high fever, rash, ear infection, conjunctivitis and swelling of the brain .
  • Mumps causes fever, headache, tiredness, and swelling of the salivary glands, swollen ovaries or testicles.
  • Rubella causes a rash and swollen glands but infection in pregnancy can result in the baby being born with severe disabilities.
  • Chickenpox can cause fever, irritability, fluid filled blisters on the skin numbering from 200 to 500, meningitis, bacterial skin infection and complications in the baby if a woman has chickenpox during pregnancy.

The vaccine contains a small amount of the live virus.

Some people may not be able to receive a live vaccine for medical reasons, please speak with your immunisation provider for further information.

This vaccine is a combinations of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the Chickenpox vaccine.

Vaccine recommendations

The MMRV vaccine is a free vaccine for children at 18 months of age as part of the National Immunisation Program.

MMRV should not be given as the first measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) containing vaccine in children less than four years of age as it can increase the risk of febrile seizures.

The vaccine may also be recommended to other groups, so speak to your doctor or immunisation provider for further information.

How the MMRV vaccine is given

The MMRV vaccine is given as an injection into the top of the arm.

Possible side effects of the MMRV vaccine

Like any medications, the MMRV vaccine can have some minor and short lasting side effects.

Common side effects

  • pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
  • moderate or a high fever - in children up to 39 degrees Celsius or above
  • generalised faint rash (non infectious) five to 12 days later
  • pustular rash five to 26 days later (two to five lesions) usually at injection site, occasionally elsewhere on the body
  • head cold and/or a runny nose
  • cough and/or puffy eyes
  • swollen glands.

Although rare or very rare, other side effects may include:

  • seizure due to high fever
  • bruising or bleeding (thrombocytopenia)
  • inflammation of the brain (encephalitis)
  • a severe allergic (anaphylactic) reaction to the vaccine.

People with egg allergies can safely receive the MMR and MMRV vaccine (see the resource, ASCIA Guidelines  Vaccine of the egg-allergic individual).

If you are concerned, seek further advice from your doctor, immunisation provider, SA Health’s Immunisation Section or healthdirect Australia.

Any unexpected event following immunisation should be reported to SA Health.

Reducing the side effects

Many of the common side effects can be reduced by:

  • drinking extra fluids
  • taking paracetamol
  • not overdressing if you are already hot.

Where to get immunised

To receive the vaccine contact your doctor, local council, community health centre or Aboriginal health centre to arrange an appointment. 

For further information on immunisation providers, see the Immunisation services page.