MMR is a vaccine given to children for protection against the viruses of Measles, Mumps as well as Rubella. Now-a-days, people are mostly opting for an advanced combination vaccine, MMRV, which gives the child an additional protection against the Varicella Virus that causes chicken pox.
With rashes, running nose, fever, eye-irritation and cough as its major symptoms, Measles is an extremely contagious disease. According to a study, almost half a million cases of measles were reported annually in the US itself resulting in 450 deaths apart from 48,000 hospitalizations. With the advent of the vaccine for the disease, the cases of this disease fell down drastically by around 99.9 percent. Even though a few cases are reported in United States, they are believed to have originated from outside the nation.
Unfortunately, Measles outbreaks are still prevailing in other countries including Europe, amongst the people who only got a single dose of the MMR Vaccine or the unvaccinated population (for example, the people that refuses vaccines). World Health Organization (WHO) report suggests that measles is one of the leading causes of the vaccine-preventable deaths in children. However, according to the estimates more than 12 million deaths have been prevented since 2000, with a global effort of vaccinating children with MMR/MMRV.
Mumps is a severe and contagious disease which basically leads to the painful inflammation, swelling of the salivary glands, the portion under the jaws. Salivary glands are responsible for saliva production which in turn helps in chewing the food and swallowing activity.
It is a viral disease which spreads either when the sick person sneezes or when the healthy person takes the food items contaminated with the infected saliva of the sick person. Although the mumps can happen at any stage of life, it is primarily observed in the children of 2-12 years who have not taken the proper vaccine. Incubation period of this virus is generally 12-24 days. It may also result in orchitis development, which is swelling of one or both testicles. However, it leads to sterility only in rare cases. Apart from salivary gland and testicles, mumps may also infect the central nervous system or pancreas as well and can lead to meningitis, encephalitis or in some cases, even deafness. MMR immunization vaccine should be mandatory for children between 12-15 months age and then again between 4-6 years of age. If the MMR vaccine is not given at these ages, they can be given the immunization vaccine at the age of 11-12 years.
Before the Mumps vaccine was licensed first in 1967, mumps was a common disease in infants and children. However, 2009 reports suggest a reduced rate of more than 99 percent in such cases.
Rubella or the German measles is a viral disease which spread through air as a medium or when in close/direct contact. Basic symptoms of rubella are the rash on the skin, mild fever or swollen lymph nodes in children while the symptoms in adults ranges from fever and headache to general discomfort or running nose before the rash appears. Inflammations of the eyes or the Muscle/joint pain are also the rarely found symptoms of rubella.
Incubation period of this virus is about 3 days, but if the virus infects a pregnant woman, the effects are severe ranging from miscarriage to the birth defects in the child, with possible issues of deafness, mental retardation, heartaches or eye problems.
Prior to the first licensing of rubella vaccine in 1969, an epidemic in 1964-65 resulted in around 12.5 million cases of rubella which resulted in 20000 infants birth with either blindness , deafness or mental retardness. Fortunately, with the introduction of the vaccine, rubella is almost eliminated in the World.
MMR Vaccination: It is advised to have two doses of the vaccine for everyone.
MMR Vaccination Age: First MMR vaccine is supposed to be given between 12-15 months and next between 4-6 years of age. It is advised to use the BabyCenter's Immunization Scheduler for tracking the immunization of a child.
A child is not supposed to take MMR Immunization vaccine if he ever had an allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or have already received a dose of the MMR or MMRV vaccine.
Check with your doctor about your child receiving the MMR vaccine if he:
1. Is taking steroids
2. Has a disease that affects his immune system, like HIV/AIDS or leukemia
3. Has cancer
4. Has a blood disorder or has recently received a blood transfusion
Sick/ill Children advised to wait until they're healthy enough to get the MMR vaccine.