The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella
(German measles). These diseases can be extremely serious. Before vaccinations were
available, many children died from them. If people stop getting vaccinated, the
diseases could come back.
Serious complications of measles include:
Serious complications of mumps include:
an infection of the brain or covering of the spinal cord
of the reproductive organs (orchitis)
Serious complications of rubella mostly affect pregnant
women. They include miscarriage and birth defects.
Children need two doses of the MMR vaccine for protection.
The first is usually given between the ages of 12 and 15 months. The second is
given when children are 4 to 6 years old. However, the second dose can be given
as soon as 28 days after the first.
Anyone born after 1956 who wasn’t vaccinated as a child,
should get at least one dose of MMR as an adult. The only exception would be
individuals who have had all three diseases.
The MMRV vaccine combines the MMR and varicella vaccines.
Therefore, it also protects against chickenpox. However, the risk of side
effects is higher than with separate shots. This is true even if the shots are
given at the same visit.
Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?
Certain people should not get the MMR vaccine. This includes
allergic to the antibiotic neomycin
- is allergic
to another component of the vaccine
had a serious reaction to a previous dose of MMR or MMRV
People with immune system deficiencies should talk to their
doctors about the risks of vaccination. They may want to skip the vaccine.
In addition, certain people may want to delay vaccination.
This includes people who:
- have recently
received a blood transfusion
been vaccinated within the previous four weeks
currently moderately to severely ill
Potential Side Effects
Serious side effects from the MMR vaccine are extremely
rare. Most people who receive the vaccine have no side effects. When side
effects do occur, they are usually mild. They include:
pain or stiffness (common)
allergic reactions (very rare)
There is no evidence that getting three separate vaccines is
safer than getting the combined vaccine.