Vaccine for Measles

Pronounced (MEE-zills)

Prevent measles and talk to your healthcare provider about the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, especially if planning to travel.

Prevent measles with MMR vaccine

Measles can be prevented with MMR vaccine. The vaccine protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella.

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Traveling internationally?

The vaccine schedule is different if you or your child are traveling internationally. You should follow this schedule instead.

Schedule for MMR vaccine if you’re not traveling

Schedule for MMR vaccine if you’re not traveling
First Dose Second Dose
Children* Age 12-15 months Age 4-6 years
Teenagers and adults with no evidence of immunity** As soon as possible N/A

* CDC recommends this schedule for children 12 months and older. Infants 6-11 months and children 12 months and older traveling outside the U.S. should follow another schedule.

** Acceptable evidence of immunity against measles includes at least one of the following: written documentation of adequate vaccination, laboratory evidence of immunity, laboratory confirmation of measles, or birth in the United States before 1957.

Check if your child is due for MMR vaccine

If you have children, see if they’re due for MMR vaccine:

MMR vaccine is safe and effective

Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective.

There is no link between vaccines and autism

Scientists in the United States and other countries have carefully studied the MMR shot. No studies have found a link between autism and the MMR shot. Learn more

Measles can also be prevented with MMRV vaccine

Children may also get MMRV vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox). This vaccine is only licensed for use in children who are 12 months through 12 years of age.

Paying for the measles vaccine

If you have insurance

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. But you may want to check with your health insurance provider before your visit. How to Pay for Vaccines

If you don’t have insurance or your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child

If you have a child and don’t have insurance or if your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child, the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) may be able to help. This program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. To find out if your child is eligible, visit the VFC website or ask your child’s healthcare provider. You can also contact your state VFC coordinator.

Measles is a serious disease that can lead to complications and death

Measles is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In fact, the measles virus can stay in the air for up to 2 hours after an infected person was there. So you can get infected by simply being in a room where an infected person once was. It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.

Measles starts with fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose, and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body.

Vaccination prevents measles-related complications and death

Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963:

  • an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States;
  • of these, approximately 500,000 cases were reported each year to CDC;
  • of these, 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 developed encephalitis (brain swelling) from measles.

Since then, widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era.

Page last reviewed: November 5, 2020