MMR Vaccine: Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination

MMR vaccine, or the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine, protects against the three infectious diseases. MMR is a weakened live virus vaccine that helps develop immunity through active immunisation. Children between the age of 1-12 years are required to take this vaccine to effectively prevent measles, mumps, and rubella. Usually, the first dose is administered to children between 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose between 4-6 years. These two doses of the vaccine are proven to be 97% and 88% effective against Measles and Mumps, respectively. MMRV (Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella) is another variant of the vaccine which can be administered based on the doctor's consultation instead of the MMR vaccine.

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MMR Vaccine: Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination

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Why is MMR Vaccine Given?

MMR vaccine is necessary to prevent the three diseases. Before the advent of vaccination, these diseases were common and led to fatal consequences as well. MMR is the most effective vaccine for measles.

Let's have a look at the symptoms and associated risks of measles, mumps and rubella:

  • Measles

It causes high fever, cough, cold, and reddish eyes. In the worst cases it can lead to ear infections and pneumonia. MMR is a highly effective measles vaccine.

  • Mumps

It leads to headache, swelling of muscles, body ache, fever and softening of salivary glands. If untreated, it can cause permanent deafness and brain swelling. Most efficacious mumps vaccine is MMR.

  • Rubella

Fever, rashness and irritation in eyes is commonly experienced in Rubella. In severe cases it can cause arthritis in women. If a pregnant woman contracts rubella, she will either suffer a miscarriage or the child will be born with birth deformities. MMR is a potent rubella vaccine.

Now that you have understood the reason why MMR vaccine is given, let us understand how it functions.

How does the MMR Vaccine Work?

MMR vaccine contains a highly weakened viral strain. Once it's injected, the body detects an alien substance and the immune system is stimulated to develop a resistance against MMR. It's a highly effective vaccine that provides life-long protection against the three diseases in most cases. However, an additional dose later in life may be required if there’s an epidemic outbreak. The efficacy of the vaccine depends on the dose. Complete two doses of MMR vaccine provides more than 95% protection against measles, 85% against mumps, and over 97% against rubella.

How is MMR Vaccine Given?

According to the US' CDC (Centre for Disease Control), children should take both doses of MMR vaccine before the age of 6. The first dose is administered between the age of 12-15 months. MMR vaccine is injected as a shot like most other vaccines.

Who should take the MMR Vaccine?

Vaccination is essential to combat the three diseases. The following people should take MMR vaccine:

  • Healthy children

All children under the age of 12 without any disorder or hereditary disease should take the MMR vaccine

  • Adults at risk

MMR is usually meant for children but adults who are susceptible to infection should take it

  • Everyone during an outbreak

If there’s an MMR outbreak in a region, everyone irrespective of age should go for the vaccine

  • Frequent travellers

Those travelling to areas with very high prevalence of MMR should get themselves checked and inoculated to minimize the possibility of any health hazards

 

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Who should not take the MMR Vaccine?

People who suffer from the following ailments, are unfit, or have some hereditary diseases should not take the MMR vaccine. It includes those with the following conditions:

  • Severe allergies:

Those who suffer from severe allergies that can be life-threatening should avoid the MMR vaccine.

  • Weak immunity:

Individuals with a weak or compromised immune system should not go for the MMR shot.

  • HIV patients:

HIV enfeebles the body's immune response, so those who are HIV positive should not take the MMR vaccine.

  • Hereditary diseases:

People with inherited diseases or a family history of immune system disorders are advised not to take the vaccine.

  • TB patients:

Those suffering from tuberculosis cannot take the MMR vaccine.

  • Illness:

If you are suffering from any kind of illness, even mild ones like cough and cold, don't go for vaccination until you fully recover.

  • Pregnant women:

Expecting mothers should avoid the vaccination until they give birth.

  • Blood transfusion:

Those who have received blood should wait for at least three months before getting an MMR vaccine.

  • No other vaccine:

Before undergoing MMR vaccination ensure that you haven’t taken any other vaccine in the past one month.

What are the MMR Vaccine Ingredients?

Each dose of MMR contains the following ingredients apart from the main active ingredient which the weakened live MMR virus strain:

Vaccine Ingredient

Utility

Purified Gelatin

It's used a stabilizer

Sorbitol

This is also a stabilizer

Human Serum Albumin

It also serves the purpose of a stabilizer

Polysorbate 80

It's used as an emulsifier

Neomycin

Antibiotic that prevents bacterial growth in the vaccine

Sucrose

Another important vaccine ingredient

What Happens If I Miss a Dose?

If a child has taken the first MMR vaccine dose, but has taken the second dose then consult a doctor and based on the tests, he will advise whether the first dose needs to be repeated as well or second can be continued.

MMR Vaccine Pros & Cons

Just like all other vaccines, MMR also comes with its pros & cons. Though the pros heavily outweigh the cons.

Pros Of MMR Vaccine:

  • Highly Effective: It provides complete protection against the three diseases

  • Lower Risk: Greatly reduces the risk of any complexities or disorders that arise from these

  • Durability: Provide up to lifelong protection

Cons Of MMR Vaccine:

  • Adverse Effects: There can be side-effects ranging from mild to severe

  • Not Effective in Epidemic: In case of epidemic outbreaks of measles, mumps or rubella the vaccine may not be effective and you may have to take another dose.

  • Only for Healthy Individuals: Those suffering from any sort of illness, disorder or prolonged sickness cannot take MMR vaccine.

What are the Side Effects of MMR Vaccine?

The following are the reported side-effects of MMR vaccine:

  • Fever and skin rashes

  • Seizures, muscle and joint pain

  • Allergies, swelling, difficulty in breathing

The side-effects can be mild, moderate as well as severe. Breathlessness and extreme allergy are usually severe side-effects that are rare as well.

The Bottom Line

MMR vaccine is a highly effective three-pronged protection against measles, mumps and rubella. All healthy children below the age of 12 should take the vaccine. Its efficacy can be up to 90%. Adults who are prone to the three diseases or live in an area of outbreak, should also take the vaccine. MMR vaccine for adults is available at most health centres. MMR vaccine cost in India varies from Rs. 200 to Rs. 600. In case of any allergies or existing ailments, always consult a doctor. Mass vaccination is the only way to completely eradicate diseases and improve public health. And to be doubly sure, there’s health insurance to protect you from various diseases.

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