Measles, Mumps, & Rubella (MMR) Vaccine

About the Diseases

Measles, mumps and rubella are serious diseases. They spread when germs pass from an infected person to the nose or throat of others.


  • Causes rash, cough, & fever
  • It can lead to ear infection, pneumonia, diarrhea, seizures, brain damage, and even death


  • Causes fever, headache, swollen glands under the jaw
  • It can lead to hearing loss, meningitis (infection of brain and spinal cord coverings), and males can have painful, swollen testicles.


  • Causes rash, mild fever, swollen glands, arthritis (mostly in women)
  • Pregnant women can lose their babies.
  • Babies can be born with birth defects such as
    • deafness
    • blindness
    • heart disease
    • brain disease
    • other serious problems

About the Vaccines

Benefits of the Vaccines

Vaccination is the best way to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella. Because most children get the MMR vaccines, there are now many fewer cases of these diseases. There would be many more cases if we stopped vaccinating children.

MMR Schedule

Most children should have a total of 2 MMR vaccines. They should have MMR at

  • 12-15 months of age
  • 4-6 years of age of before middle school or junior high school

Other vaccines may be given at the same time as MMR.

Who Should Get the MMR Vaccine?

Most doctors recommend that almost all young children get MMR vaccine. But there are some cautions. Tell your doctor or nurse if the person getting the vaccine is less able to fight serious infections because of::

  • a disease she/he was born with
  • treatment with drugs such as long-term steroids
  • any kind of cancer
  • cancer treatment with x-rays or drugs


  • People with AIDS or HIV infection usually should get MMR vaccine.
  • Pregnant women should wait until after pregnancy for MMR vaccine.
  • People with a serious allergy to eggs or the drug neomycin should tell the doctor or nurse. If you are not sure, ask the doctor or nurse.

Tell your doctor or nurse if the person getting the vaccine:

  • ever had a serious allergic reaction or other problem after getting MMR
  • now has moderate or severe illness
  • has ever had a seizure
  • has a parent, brother, or sister who has had seizures
  • has gotten immune globulin or other blood products (such as transfusion) during the past several months.

If you are not sure, ask your doctor or nurse.


What are the risks from MMR vaccine?

As with any medicine, there are very small risks that serious problems, even death, could occur after taking a vaccine.

The risks from the vaccine are much smaller than the risks from the diseases if people stopped using vaccine.

Almost all people who get MMR have no problems from it.

Mild or moderate problems:

  • Soon after the vaccination, there may be soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • 1-2 weeks aftter the first dose, there may be:
    • rash (5-15 out of every 100 doses)
    • fever of 103 degrees or higher (5-15 out of every 100 doses). This usually lasts 1-2 days.
    • swelling of the glands in the cheeks, neck, or under the jaw
    • a seizure (jerking and staring spell) usually caused by a fever. This is rare.
  • 1-3 weeks after the first dose, there may be:
    • pain, stiffness, or swelling in one or more joints lasting up to 3 days (1 out of every 100 doses in children; up to 40 out of every 100 doses in young women). Rarely, pain or stiffness lasts a month or longer, or may come and go; this is most common in young and adult women.

Acetominophen or ibuprofen (non-aspirin) may be used to reduce fever and soreness

Severe Problems:

These problems happen very rarely:

  • serious allergic reaction
  • low number of platelets (a type of blood cell) that can lead to bleeding problems. This is almost always temporary
  • long seizures, decreased consciousness, or coma

Problems following MMR are much less common after the second dose.

What to do if there is a serious reaction:

  • Call a doctor or get the person to a doctor right away
  • Write down what happened and the date and time it happened.
  • Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Report form or call (800)338-2382 (toll-free)


The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program gives compensation (payment) for persons thought to be injured by vaccines. For details, call (800)338-2382 (toll-free).

If you want to learn more, ask us! We can give you the vaccine package insert or suggest other sources of information.

Information from Department of Health & Social Services.