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Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know

One of the Recommended Vaccines by Disease

CDC recommends that people get MMR vaccine to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella. Children should get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults also should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination. 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.

Who Should Get MMR Vaccine?

Children

CDC recommends all children get two doses of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Children can receive the second dose earlier as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.

MMR vaccine is given later than some other childhood vaccines because antibodies transferred from the mother to the baby can provide some protection from disease and make the MMR vaccine less effective until about 1 year of age.

Learn about 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.

Students at post-high school educational institutions

Students at post-high school educational institutions who do not have evidence of immunity need two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.

Adults

Adults who do not have evidence of immunity should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.

International travelers

People 6 months of age and older who will be traveling internationally should be protected against measles. Before any international travel—

  • Infants 6 through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine. Infants who get one dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday should get two more doses (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose separated by at least 28 days).
  • Children 12 months of age and older should receive two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.
  • Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.

See also, Travel Information (Measles | Mumps | Rubella)

Healthcare personnel

Healthcare personnel should have documented evidence of immunity, according to the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices [48 pages]. Healthcare personnel without evidence of immunity should get two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.

Women of Childbearing Age

Women of childbearing age should check with their doctor to make sure they are vaccinated before they get pregnant. Women of childbearing age who do not have evidence of immunity should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.

It is safe for breastfeeding women to receive MMR vaccination. Breastfeeding does not interfere with the response to MMR vaccine, and the baby will not be affected by the vaccine through breast milk.

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Who Should Not Get MMR Vaccine?

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine

Some people should not get MMR vaccine or should wait.

  • Anyone who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of MMR vaccine, should not get the vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
  • Anyone who had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of MMR or MMRV vaccine should not get another dose.
  • Some people who are sick at the time the shot is scheduled may be advised to wait until they recover before getting MMR vaccine.
  • Pregnant women should not get MMR vaccine. Pregnant women who need the vaccine should wait until after giving birth. Women should avoid getting pregnant for 4 weeks after vaccination with MMR vaccine.
  • Tell your doctor if the person getting the vaccine:
    • Has HIV/AIDS, or another disease that affects the immune system
    • Is being treated with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids
    • Has any kind of cancer
    • Is being treated for cancer with radiation or drugs
    • Has ever had a low platelet count (a blood disorder)
    • Has gotten another vaccine within the past 4 weeks
    • Has recently had a transfusion or received other blood products
    • Any of these might be a reason to not get the vaccine, or delay vaccination until later.

A minor illness, such as a cold or chickenpox, should not delay anyone from receiving the benefits of MMR or any other vaccine. In addition, it is safe for people around a pregnant woman to be vaccinated. Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine viruses are not transmitted from the vaccinated person, so a recently vaccinated person would not pose a risk to a pregnant woman.

This information was taken directly from the MMR (Measles, Mumps & Rubella) Vaccine information Statement (VIS) dated 04/20/2012.

Learn who should not 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.

 

Who Does Not Need MMR Vaccine?

You do not need measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine if you meet any of these criteria for evidence of immunity:

  • You have written documentation of adequate vaccination:
    • at least one dose of a measles-, mumps-, and rubella-containing vaccine administered on or after the first birthday for preschool-age children and adults not at high risk for exposure and transmission
    • two doses of measles- and mumps-containing vaccine for school-age children and adults at high risk for exposure and transmission, including college students, healthcare personnel, and international travelers
  • You had blood tests that show you are immune to measles, mumps, and rubella.
  • You have laboratory confirmation of past measles, mumps, or rubella infection.
  • You were born before 1957.*

If you do not have evidence of immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella, talk with your doctor about getting vaccinated. If you’re unsure whether you’ve been vaccinated, you should first try to find your vaccination records. If you do not have written documentation of MMR vaccine, you should get vaccinated. The MMR vaccine is safe, and there is no harm in getting another dose if you may already be immune to measles, mumps, or rubella.

If you received a measles vaccine in the 1960s, you may not need to be revaccinated. People who have documentation of receiving LIVE measles vaccine in the 1960s do not need to be revaccinated. People who were vaccinated prior to 1968 with either inactivated (killed) measles vaccine or measles vaccine of unknown type should be revaccinated with at least one dose of live attenuated measles vaccine. This recommendation is intended to protect those who may have received killed measles vaccine, which was available in 1963-1967 and was not effective.

* Birth before 1957 provides only presumptive evidence for measles, mumps, and rubella. Before vaccines were available, nearly everyone was infected with measles, mumps, and rubella viruses during childhood. The majority of people born before 1957 are likely to have been infected naturally and therefore are presumed to be protected against measles, mumps, and rubella.

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How Well Does the MMR Vaccine Work?

MMR vaccine is very effective at protecting people against measles, mumps, and rubella, and preventing the complications caused by these diseases. People who received two doses of MMR vaccine as children according to the U.S. vaccination schedule are considered protected for life.

Two doses of MMR vaccine are 97% effective against measles and 88% effective against mumps. One dose of MMR vaccine is 93% effective against measles, 78% effective against mumps, and 97% effective against rubella.

MMR is an attenuated (weakened) live virus vaccine. This means that after injection, the viruses cause a harmless infection in the vaccinated person with very few, if any, symptoms before they are eliminated from the body. The person’s immune system fights the infection caused by these weakened viruses, and immunity (the body’s protection from the virus) develops.

A few people who get two doses of MMR vaccine may still get measles, mumps, or rubella if they are exposed to the viruses that cause these diseases. Experts aren’t sure why; it could be that their immune systems didn’t respond as well as they should have to the vaccine.

  • About 3 out of 100 people who get two doses of MMR vaccine will get measles if exposed to the virus. However, they are more likely to have a milder illness, and are also less likely to spread the disease to other people.
  • Two doses of MMR vaccine are 88% (range 31% to 95%) effective at preventing mumps. Mumps outbreaks can still occur in highly vaccinated U.S. communities, particularly in close-contact settings such as schools, colleges, and camps. However, high vaccination coverage helps limit the size, duration, and spread.
  • While there are not many studies available, most people who do not respond to the rubella component of the first MMR dose would be expected to respond to the second dose.

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What is MMRV Vaccine?

MMRV vaccine protects against four diseases: measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox). This vaccine is only licensed for use in children 12 months through 12 years of age.

CDC recommends that children get one dose of MMRV vaccine at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. A doctor can help parents decide whether to use this vaccine or MMR vaccine.

MMRV is given by shot and may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Please see the MMRV Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) for more information about who should not get MMRV vaccine or should wait.

For more information, see

 

Should You Get Vaccinated After Being Exposed to Measles, Mumps, or Rubella?

If you do not have immunity against measles, mumps, or rubella and are exposed to someone with one of these diseases, talk with your doctor about getting MMR vaccine. It is not harmful to get MMR vaccine after being exposed to measles, mumps, or rubella, and doing so may possibly prevent later disease.

During outbreaks, everyone without evidence of immunity should be brought up to date on their MMR vaccination. Sometimes during measles and mumps outbreaks, an additional dose of MMR may be given.

If you get MMR vaccine within 72 hours of initially being exposed to measles, you may get some protection against the disease, or have milder illness. Also, if you are given a medicine called immunoglobulin (IG) within six days of being exposed to measles, you may get some protection against the disease, or have milder illness. Except in healthcare settings, unvaccinated people who get their first dose of MMR vaccine within 72 hours after being exposed to measles may return to childcare, school, or work.

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What are the Childcare and School Requirements for MMR Vaccine?

All 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) have state laws that require children entering childcare or public schools to have certain vaccinations. There is no federal law that requires this.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends that all states require children entering childcare, and students starting school, college, and other postsecondary educational institutions to be up to date on MMR vaccination:

  • 1 dose is recommended for preschool-aged children 12 months or older
  • 2 doses are recommended for school-aged children in kindergarten through grade 12 as well as students attending colleges or other post-high school educational institutions

For more information, see State Vaccination Requirements.

 

How Can Parents Pay For MMR Vaccine?

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

If you don’t have insurance or if your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child, the Vaccines for Children 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.

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