NHS urges young adults to catch up on missed MMR vaccine

More than 900,000 adults aged 19 to 25 in England are being invited to book an appointment for their missed measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, as the NHS catch-up campaign continues.

From this week, the NHS campaign is targeting young adults in three areas – West Midlands, Greater Manchester and London – with these areas more at risk due to the number of people who are not up to date with their MMR vaccinations.

This follows on from 200,000 16-19 year olds in the same areas being sent NHS reminders last week to get their jab.

Measles is one of the world’s most infectious diseases with estimates showing that one infected adult or child can pass the disease onto around 15 other unvaccinated people.

There is currently no medical treatment for measles, however, two doses of the MMR vaccine can give someone effective lifelong protection against becoming seriously unwell with the disease.

In phase one of the NHS catch-up campaign, over a million parents and carers of 6-11 years-olds in England that are not up to date with their MMR vaccinations were sent emails, letters and texts inviting them to book a vaccine appointment for their children.

Thousands of invites have also been sent to parents and carers of children aged 1116 years in London and the West Midlands. These two areas were selected for an enhanced catch-up programme due to an increase in cases combined with low MMR vaccine uptake rates.

Steve Russell, NHS Director of Vaccinations and Screening, said: “Measles is one of the most infectious diseases in the world and can cause serious harm to adults and children of all ages.

“But the NHS MMR vaccine gives life-long protection against becoming seriously unwell, so with cases of measles on the rise, it is not worth the risk of going without this vital protection.

“Measles, mumps and rubella are preventable, but catching them is easy when people are unvaccinated, so I urge people to come forward and get the MMR vaccine sooner, rather than later.”

Unvaccinated six to 25 years olds can get their MMR jabs via their GP surgery, while some areas are also running pop-up vaccination clinics in libraries, university campuses, sports clubs, and other convenient places.

Data from UKHSA shows there have been 733 cases of measles in England between October 2023 and 07 March 2024.

Catching measles can lead to life changing issues for adults and children, such as blindness, deafness and swelling of the brain (encephalitis).

Measles can also have a serious impact on pregnant women, potentially leading to premature birth, low birth weight and still birth. Health chiefs are urging anyone thinking about becoming pregnant to ensure their MMR vaccination status is up to date because the vaccine can’t be given during pregnancy.

Two doses of the MMR vaccine are needed for maximum life-long protection, with the first dose given around a person’s first birthday, and the second dose given at around three years and four months.

However, anyone can catch up at any age on any missed doses and it’s never too late to protect yourself. The vaccine doses are typically given via a single injection into the muscle of the thigh or upper arm and are usually delivered with their other one year and preschool vaccinations.

The NHS’s call for action around by young adults on getting their MMR vaccination is being supported by 20 years old, Rosie Brentnall.

Rosie, said: “After reading about the number of measles cases increasing in the news, I double checked I was fully vaccinated and protected against this horrible disease. I was pleased when my GP confirmed I’ve had both doses of the MMR vaccine, especially as I am at University and about to go abroad, where I know there have been more cases. I can now travel without worrying I am going to get unwell when away from home.”

In the United Kingdon, over 20 million cases of measles have been prevented since vaccination against the disease began during the 1980s, according to data from UKHSA. Data also shows that over 4,500 lives- 81 lives per year -across the United Kingdom have been saved as a result.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, Consultant Medical Epidemiologist for Immunisation at UKHSA, said: “Anyone who is not vaccinated against measles can catch it. Being unvaccinated also means you risk spreading the disease to others, including those at greatest risk of becoming seriously ill – like infants, who aren’t able to receive their MMR vaccine until their first birthday, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system.

“The MMR jab also protects against complications from mumps in young adults. I strongly urge anyone who’s not vaccinated to protect both themselves and those more vulnerable around them.”

More information on the MMR vaccine is available at