The risk of travellers' exposure to measles, mumps and rubella is greatest from visits to tropical countries where these diseases remain endemic and routine vaccination programmes are not established, unlike those in industrialised countries. Infants and young children born in industrialised countries, who are going to live for prolonged periods in such areas, should receive their routine childhood immunisations, including MMR, before travel, which may necessitate immunisation at an earlier age than recommended for the national immunisation programme. For those that have defaulted or have not received a complete course of immunisation, the risks of infection should be clearly explained and immunisation strongly recommended and administered before departure. Susceptible adolescents, adults and women of child-bearing age should also be vaccinated with MMR before travel or living abroad. Individuals born before 1957 are generally considered to have natural immunity and are therefore not susceptible to infection.
MMR vaccine is administered as a single 0.5 ml dose at 12-15 months of age, with a booster given at 3-5 years of age in the United Kingdom and during infancy and preschool in other industrialised countries. The safety of these vaccines should not be questioned, as the causal relationship between MMR and autism and Crohn disease remains unproven.
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