A safe and effective vaccine can be used to prevent measles. It is recommended for all children and all adults born after 1970 who have not yet had the vaccination or who were only given one dose of the vaccine.
The measles vaccine is combined with the mumps and rubella vaccines (MMR vaccine), or also with the chickenpox vaccine (MMRV vaccine). You can’t get a measles vaccine on its own in Germany.
The first dose of the vaccine is given at the age of 11 months, and the second dose is given at 15 months. Children who go to a daycare center before that can already be vaccinated from the age of 9 months.
After having the second dose of the vaccine, about 95 to 100% of people are immune to (protected against) measles. This protection usually lasts for the rest of their lives. In very rare cases people still get measles even though they have had the vaccine. This mainly happens in older adults who have only received one dose of the vaccine.
It is important that people have the measles vaccine in order to stop the disease from spreading. If most of the population has been vaccinated, that also protects people who can’t have the vaccine, such as young babies. This is known as herd immunity or the herd effect. The number of people who need to be immune in order to achieve this effect depends on how contagious the disease is. Because measles is highly contagious, as many people as possible need to have an effective vaccination.
Since 2020, people in Germany are sometimes required to show that they are immune to measles: Before being allowed to go to a daycare center, school or other community facility, all children aged 1 and over have to prove that they have been vaccinated against measles or are immune to it. This legal requirement also applies to people who were born after 1970 and work in health facilities such as hospitals or doctor’s offices, community facilities or shared accommodation. Vaccination status can be shown with the child's health record booklet (“U-Heft” in Germany), vaccination records or a medical certificate from the doctor. Immunity can be verified with a blood test for antibodies.