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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Surgeries and Procedures > Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine

Alternate Names : MMR Immunization, MMR Vaccine, MMR Vaccination

Overview & Description | Preparation & Expectations | Home Care and Complications

Vaccines contain weakened or dead germs that cause certain diseases. To fight these germs, a person's immune system creates antibodies which help the body rid itself of the germs and prevent infection. Some of these antibodies will stay in the body for use at a later time if needed. Later in life, if a child or adult is exposed to these diseases, the antibodies multiply and fight them off.

The combined measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine is given to children or adults to prevent those three diseases. A series of two shots are given at least one month apart. The vaccine protects against the discomforts and possibly serious complications of:

  • measles, which can cause rash, fever, ear infection, pneumonia, brain damage, and, rarely, death
  • mumps, which can cause swollen glands, fever, diseases that can damage the brain and nervous system, painfully swollen testicles or ovaries, and, rarely, death
  • rubella, which can cause rash, joint pain, diseases that can damage the brain and nerve cells, miscarriage, and serious birth defects in a fetus
  • Who is a candidate for the procedure?

    The vaccine protects best against these three diseases if the first shot is given before a child is 2 years old. The U.S. government currently recommends:

  • one shot when a child is between 12 and 15 months old
  • a second shot, or booster shot, when a child is between 4 and 6 years old
  • Many people who were not vaccinated at these times can still benefit from vaccination. Measles causes more serious health problems among teens and adults than among children. Mumps is of special concern to males because it may cause infertility.

    Rubella may cause miscarriage or birth defects if a woman catches it during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. The best schedule for unvaccinated children and adults should be discussed with a healthcare provider. A woman who is considering pregnancy should check with her healthcare provider to be sure she is up to date on all of her immunizations. If she has not received the necessary doses of MMR vaccine, she should consider getting them prior to becoming pregnant. This will insure that the unborn baby is not put at risk should the mother develop one of these infections while pregnant. To be effective, the vaccine must be given at least 3 months prior to a woman becoming pregnant.

    Not everyone should have the MMR vaccine. Vaccination should be discussed with a healthcare provider if a child or adult:

  • has an immunodeficiency disorder or cancer
  • is being treated with steroids or other medications that affect the immune system
  • is pregnant or planning to get pregnant within the next 3 months
  • has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to certain substances, like eggs
  • has had one or more of the diseases covered by the vaccine
  • How is the procedure performed?

    One shot is given into the muscle of the upper arm or thigh.


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    Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine: Preparation & Expectations

    Author: Francesca Coltrera, BA
    Reviewer: Melissa Sanders, PharmD
    Date Reviewed: 08/07/01

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