Vaccine (Shot) for Measles

Measles

Pronounced [MEE-zills]

Two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended by doctors as the best way to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella.

When should my child get the MMR shot?

One dose at each of the following ages:

Before traveling to another country, infants 6 to 11 months should get 1 dose of the MMR shot.

Little boy dressed as a super hero.

Why should my child get the MMR shot?

  • Protects your child from measles, a potentially serious disease, as well as mumps and rubella.
  • Protects your child from getting an uncomfortable rash and high fever from measles.
  • Keeps your child from missing school or child care and you from missing work.

The measles shot is safe.

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The measles shot is very safe and is effective at preventing measles. Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own.

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There is no link between the MMR shot and autism.
Scientists in the United States and other countries have carefully studied the MMR shot. None has found a link between autism and the MMR shot.

What are the side effects of the shot?

Most children don’t have any side effects from the shot. The side effects that do occur are usually mild and may include:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Mild rash
  • Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints

More serious side effects are rare. These may include high fever that could cause a seizure.

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Prepare for your child's vaccine visit and learn about how you can:

  • Research vaccines and ready your child before the visit
  • Comfort your child during the appointment
  • Care for your child after the shot
Before, During, and After Shots

What is measles?

Symptoms of measles.

What are the symptoms of measles?

Measles starts with a fever that can get very high. Some of the other symptoms that may occur are:

  • Cough, runny nose, and red eyes
  • Rash of tiny, red spots that start at the head and spread to the rest of the body
  • Diarrhea
  • Ear infection

Is measles serious?

Number of people hospitalized with measles.

Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children.

For some children, measles can lead to:

  • Pneumonia (a serious lung infection)
  • Lifelong brain damage
  • Deafness
  • Death

 How does measles spread?

  • Measles spreads when a person infected with the measles virus breathes, coughs, or sneezes.
  • It is very contagious.
  • You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, up to 2 hours after that person is gone.
  • And you can catch measles from an infected person even before they have a measles rash.
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Almost everyone who has not had the MMR shot will get measles if they are exposed to the measles virus.

Is measles in the United States?

Every year, unvaccinated U.S. residents get measles while they are abroad and bring the disease into the United States and spread it to others.

Measles is common in other parts of the world, including countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Africa. When people with measles travel into the United States, they can spread the disease to unvaccinated people including children too young to be vaccinated.

20 million people worldwide get measles each year.

How many measles cases are there in the United States each year?

From year to year, measles cases can range from roughly less than 100 to a couple hundred.

However, in some years, there were more measles cases than usual. In 2014, 667 people from 27 states were reported as having measles. The 2019 case count exceeded 2014 levels as of July 3, 2019, and continues to climb. Most of these people got measles in the United States after being exposed to someone who got measles while in another country.

Follow the vaccine schedule

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend children receive all vaccines according to the recommended vaccine schedule.

Page last reviewed: August 2, 2019