Vaccines and Preventable Diseases:
Measles Vaccination: Who Needs It?
Measles vaccine (contained in MMR, MR and measles vaccines) can prevent this disease.
The MMR vaccine is a live, attenuated (weakened), combination vaccine that protects against the measles, mumps, and rubella viruses. It was first licensed in the combined form in 1971 and contains the safest and most effective forms of each vaccine.
It is made by taking the measles virus from the throat of an infected person and adapting it to grow in chick embryo cells in a laboratory. As the virus becomes better able to grow in the chick embryo cells, it becomes less able to grow in a child’s skin or lungs. When this vaccine virus is given to a child it replicates only a little before it is eliminated from the body. This replication causes the body to develop an immunity that, in 95% of children, lasts for a lifetime.
A second dose of the vaccine is recommended to protect those 5% who did not develop immunity in the first dose and to give "booster" effect to those who did develop an immune response.
Does my child need this vaccine?
Children should get 2 doses of MMR vaccine:
- The first dose at 12 months through 15 months of age
- The second dose at 4 years through 6 years of age
These are the recommended ages. But children can get the second dose at any age, as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.
Before any international travel, infants 6 months through 11 months of age should have at least one dose of MMR vaccine. Children 12 months of age or older should have two doses separated by at least 28 days.
As an adult, do I need this vaccine?
You do NOT need the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR) if:
- You had blood tests that show you are immune to measles, mumps, and rubella.
- You are a man born before 1957.
- You are a woman born before 1957 who is sure she is not having more children, has already had rubella vaccine, or has had a positive rubella test.
- You already had two doses of MMR or one dose of MMR plus a second dose of measles vaccine.
- You already had one dose of MMR and are not at high risk of measles exposure.
You SHOULD get the measles vaccine if you are not among the categories listed above, and:
- You are a college student, trade school student, or other student beyond high school.
- You work in a hospital or other medical facility*.
- You travel internationally, or are a passenger on a cruise ship.
- You are a woman of childbearing age.
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Content last reviewed on April 6, 2009
Content Source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases