Mumps Vaccination

Protect Your Child with Mumps Vaccine

Mumps vaccine is the best way to decrease your child’s risk of getting mumps. It is usually given as part of a combination vaccine that protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). Children should get two doses of MMR vaccine:

  • the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and
  • the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.

The MMR vaccine is safe and effective. Most children don’t have any side effects from the vaccine. The side effects that do occur are usually very mild, such as a fever or rash.

Your child’s doctor may also offer the MMRV vaccine, a combination vaccine that protects against four diseases: measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox). This vaccine is only licensed for use in children who are 12 months through 12 years of age. Talk to your child’s healthcare professional for help deciding which vaccine to use.

Protect Yourself Against Mumps

Anyone born during or after 1957 who has never had mumps or has never been vaccinated is at risk for mumps. They should get at least two doses of the MMR vaccine.

Teens and adults should also be up to date on MMR vaccinations. Information on locating vaccine records.

College students who do not have evidence of immunity need two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days. Other adults at higher risk, such as international travelers and healthcare professionals, should also get two doses of MMR vaccine.

MMR vaccine is safe and effective. A person with two doses of MMR vaccine has about an 88% reduction in risk for mumps; a person with one dose has a 78% reduction in risk for mumps.

Don't Let Mumps Spoil Your Fun: MMR Vaccination is the best protection against mumps!

Parents, as your children head off to college, ensure they are up to date on their MMR vaccine. Learn more about mumps cases and outbreaks.

Mumps Outbreaks Still Occur

After the U.S. mumps vaccination program started in 1967, there has been a more than 99% decrease in mumps cases in the United States. However, mumps outbreaks still occur, particularly in settings where people have close, prolonged contact, such as universities, schools, and correctional facilities.

During these outbreaks, people who previously had one or two doses of MMR vaccine can still get mumps. Experts aren’t sure why vaccinated people still get mumps, but some evidence suggests that

  • Some people’s immune systems may not respond as well as it should to the vaccine
  • The mumps vaccine may produce antibodies (proteins created by the body’s immune system to help fight infections) that are not as effective against wild-type virus strains
  • In some people, antibodies from mumps vaccination may decrease overtime, until they no longer protect the person from mumps
  • As most people are not routinely exposed to mumps, there is less immunologic boosting (where people are exposed to mumps which boosts their immunity, but they do not get sick)

Disease symptoms are milder and complications are less frequent in vaccinated people. High vaccination coverage also helps to limit the size, duration, and spread of mumps outbreaks. So, it’s still very important to be up to date on MMR vaccine.

During a mumps outbreak, public health authorities might recommend an additional dose of MMR vaccine for people who belong to groups at increased risk for getting mumps. These groups are usually those who are likely to have close contact, such as sharing sport equipment or drinks, kissing, or living in close quarters, with a person who has mumps. Your local public health authorities or institution will notify you if you are at increased risk and should receive this dose. If you already have two doses of MMR, it is not necessary to seek out vaccination unless the authorities tell you that you are part of this group.

Mumps Can Be Serious

Mumps is a contagious disease that is caused by a virus. It typically starts with fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Then, most people will have swelling of their salivary glands. This is what causes the puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw.

In most people, mumps is pretty mild. But it can cause serious, long-lasting problems including:

  • orchitis (swelling of the testicles) in males
  • oophoritis (swelling of the ovaries) and/or mastitis (swelling of the breasts) in females
  • encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
  • meningitis (swelling of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord)
  • loss of hearing (temporary or permanent)

In very rare cases, mumps is deadly.

Adult with swollen salivary gland from mumps

Mumps is best known for the puffy cheeks and swollen jaw that it causes. This is a result of swollen salivary glands. It is sometimes referred to as parotitis when it infects the parotid salivary gland that is located in front and below the ear.

Paying for Mumps Vaccine

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. However, you may want to check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor. Learn how to pay for vaccines.

If you don’t have health insurance, or if your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child, the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program 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 doctor. You can also contact your state VFC coordinator.