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Diseases & Conditions A - Z
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The Measles, Mumps, Rubella Vaccine

What It Is and What It Protects Against 

The measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination contains vaccinations for the three diseases it’s named after.

The measles virus can cause fever, cough, runny nose, eye irritation, and rash. If left untreated, it can cause seizures, pneumonia, brain damage, or even death.

The mumps virus can cause headache, fever, and swollen glands, which can lead to deafness, infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord (a condition known as meningitis), and swelling of the reproductive organs.

Rubella, also known as German measles, can cause fever, rash, and has been known to cause arthritis in women. Infection of rubella while pregnant can cause birth defects or a miscarriage.

The MMR vaccine is an injection where live, but harmless, viruses help prepare the body’s immune system against a further attack.

General Use 

 Children ages 12 months to 15 months should get their first injection and the second between the ages of 4 and 6 years. However, the second dose can be given at any time, so long as it is more than 28 days after the first.

The Center for Disease Control recommends anyone over the age of 18 get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine.

Who Should Not Get It

 Here are the people the CDC warns against getting the MMR vaccine:

  • Anyone with an allergic reaction to gelain or neomycin (an antibiotic).
  • People who are currently ill.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People with immune system deficiencies, such as with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or a low platelet count of the blood.
  • Anyone who has recently received a blood transfusion.

Potential Side Effects

While the CDC reports that most people who get the MMR vaccine have few problems with it, some side effects may occur. They include:

  • fever
  • mild rash
  • excessive sweating
  • seizure
  • joint pain or stiffness
  • other allergic reactions

Content licensed from:

Written by: Amy Boulanger
Published on: Aug 18, 2011
Medically reviewed : Jennifer Monti, MD, MPH

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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