What Are Measles, Mumps, and Rubella?

Measlesis an infection from a virus. It can cause rash, cough, runny nose, and fever. It can lead to ear infection, pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death.

Mumps is an infection from a virus. It can cause fever, headache, muscle pain, lack of hunger, and swollen glands. It can lead to deafness, infection of the brain and spinal cord covering, painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries, and sterility.

Rubella is an infection from a virus. It can cause rash, mild fever, orarthritis. Pregnant women who have it are at higher risk for miscarriage. Their babies may be born with birth defects.

What Is the Measles, Mumps, RubellaVaccine?

The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine is 3 live viruses. The viruses in it have been made harmless.

It is given under the skin.

Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?

Most children should get it twice:

  • Once at 12 to 15 months
  • Once at 4 to 6 years (when starting school)—it can be given earlier, but the 2 doses must be given at least 4 weeks apart

It can also be given to babies younger than 12 months but older than 6 months, who will travel to other countries. They should also get the 2 routine shots at ages 12 to 15 months and 4 to 6 years.

Adults born after 1956 who have not been vaccinated before may need at least 1 dose. Talk with your doctor if you were not vaccinated before.

What Are the Risks Associated With the MMR Vaccine?

Most people who get the vaccine do not have any problems. The most common ones are a fever and a rash 1 to 2 weeks after it is given. There may be redness and swelling at the site. Rare problems are:

Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?

Some people should not get it or should wait, such as:

  • People who are very sick
  • Women who are planning to become pregnant or those who are pregnant

Most children and teens should get their vaccines on time. Certain groups should not get them:

  • People who have problems with their immune system—If you have HIV and are doing well, you should think about getting it. Measles can cause death if you have HIV.
  • People being treated with drugs that affect the immune system
  • People who have cancer or are being treated for it
  • People with a low platelet count should talk to their doctor about whether to get it
  • People who have gotten another vaccine within the past 4 weeks
  • People who have had a recent transfusion or who have received other blood products should talk to their doctor about whether to get it
  • Pregnant women—Do not try to get pregnant for at least 1 month after getting it
  • Prior allergic reaction to the vaccine or its parts

What Other Ways Can Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Be Prevented?

If you have measles, mumps, or rubella, you should be kept apart from other people to stop it from spreading. Stay home until it is over. Let others you have been in contact with know that they may have been exposed to the virus.

What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?

A case of the measles, mumps, or rubella needs to be reported to public health authorities. If you think you or your child has it, call the doctor right away.

Anyone who may have been exposed and has not been fully immunized will need to get the vaccine.

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