The MMR vaccine protects agains three diseases: Measles, Mumps, and Rubella.
Measles is a virus that can cause rash, cough, runny nose, eye irritation and fever. More seriously, it can lead to pneumonia, seizures, and brain swelling which can result in long term brain damage, permeant hearing loss, physical/intellectual impairment, and death — often through pneumonia. Before the U.S. vaccine program began, 3 to 4 MILLION cases were reported each year in the U.S. alone. Since the vaccine was introduced, measles cases have decreased by 99%!
Mumps is a virus that can cause fever, headache, muscle pain, loss of appetite, and tender, swollen glands on either side of the face. These symptoms, particularly the swollen glands, often lead to decreased intake of food and fluids. Complications can include deafness, meningitis (a very serious infection of the brain and spinal cord covering), painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries, and, in rare cases, sterility. Before the U.S. vaccine program began, there were about 186,00 cases each year. Since the vaccine was introduced, measles cases have decreased by 99%!
Rubella (also known as German Measles) is a virus that causes rash, arthritis (more common in females), and a mild fever. Rubella can also cause serious complications if a pregnant woman is exposed to the virus, including miscarriages or birth defects to the baby. Congenital rubella syndrome occurs in babies whose mother has been infected with rubella. This syndrome can include heart defects, loss of hearing or eyesight, intellectual impairment, or damage to the liver and spleen. Before the U.S. vaccine program began, there were an estimated 12.5 MILLION cases. Because the vaccine program has been so successful, rubella has effectively been eliminated from the U.S. since 2004.
All these viruses can spread easily through close contact with an infected person — primarily through coughing and sneezing — even before a person becomes symptomatic and realizes they have one of the viruses!
Vaccine Schedule for MMR
MMR, a live vaccine, is given as:
1st dose at 12 months old
2nd dose at 4 years old
CDC recommends infants <12mo receive a dose if traveling outside of the US
Potential Side Effects
Fever (>100.4F): 5-15%
Swollen lymph nodes: 5%
Joint pain: 0.5%
Brooke Kulasa, PA-C, has been a Kids Plus Providers since 2019.