measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine

Pronunciation: MEE zels, MUMPS, and roo BEL a

Brand: M-M-R II

What is the most important information I should know about this vaccine?

You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

What is measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine?

Measles, mumps, and rubella are serious diseases caused by viruses spread from person to person through the air. Measles, mumps, and rubella can cause minor symptoms such as fever, headache, sore throat, cough, swollen glands, runny nose, eye irritation, skin rash, muscle aches, and joint pain.

More serious symptoms of measles or mumps include pneumonia, hearing loss, painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries, and rarely permanent brain damage or death.

Becoming infected with rubella virus (also called German Measles) during pregnancy can result in a miscarriage or serious birth defects.

The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is used to help prevent these diseases by causing your body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.

MMR vaccine is for use in children between the ages of 12 months and 6 years old, and in adults who have never received the vaccine or had the diseases.

Like any vaccine, the MMR vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving this vaccine?

You should not receive this vaccine if:

  • you are allergic to gelatin;
  • you have had a severe allergic reaction to neomycin; or
  • you have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any vaccine containing measles, mumps, or rubella.

You should also not receive this vaccine if you have:

  • a cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma;
  • a bone marrow or blood cell disorder;
  • untreated tuberculosis;
  • a history of severe allergic reaction to eggs;
  • severe immune suppression caused by disease or by receiving certain medicines, chemotherapy or radiation; or
  • if you are pregnant.

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

Your vaccine may need to be postponed or not given at all if you have:

  • active tuberculosis infection;
  • a history of brain injury or seizures;
  • thrombocytopenia purpura (easy bruising or bleeding);
  • a weak immune system;
  • a neurologic disorder or disease affecting the brain (or if this was a reaction to a previous vaccine); or
  • if you have received an immune globulin or a blood or plasma transfusion within the past 3 months.

You should not receive the MMR vaccine if you are pregnant. Wait until after your child is born to receive the vaccine.

Avoid becoming pregnant for at least 3 months after receiving the MMR vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that you may continue to breastfeed a baby after you have received this vaccine.

How is this vaccine given?

MMR vaccine is recommended if:

  • you have been exposed to an outbreak of measles;
  • you are in the military;
  • you work in a laboratory or healthcare setting;
  • you live in a dormitory or other group housing; or
  • you are planning to travel outside the United States.

Adults born after 1956 should receive at least one MMR vaccination if they have never had the diseases or received an MMR vaccine during their lifetime.

This vaccine is given as an injection under the skin, usually in a series of 1 to 3 shots. You will receive this injection in a doctor's office or clinic setting.

In children, the first shot is usually given when the child is 12 to 15 month old. The booster shots are then given between 4 and 6 years of age, or before the child starts elementary school.

The CDC recommends an MMR vaccine for infants 6 to 11 months old who will be traveling outside the United States.

Adults who are not already immune to measles, mumps, or rubella should receive MMR vaccine in a series of 2 shots separated by at least 28 days (4 weeks).

Where there has been a measles outbreak, local health departments may recommend 1 or 2 doses of MMR vaccine for children as young as 6 months old, and for older children and adults who are not already immune to measles, mumps, and rubella.

If you have been exposed to measles, mumps, or rubella, you should receive an MMR vaccine within 72 hours after exposure.

A child who has received this vaccine before 12 months of age should still receive an MMR vaccine at age 12 to 15 months, followed by a booster shot at the recommended ages of 4 to 6 years for long-lasting protection.

Your booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by your local health department.

This vaccine can cause false results on a skin test for tuberculosis for up to 6 weeks. Tell any doctor who treats you that you have received an MMR vaccine.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor if you will miss a booster dose or if you get behind schedule. The next dose should be given as soon as possible. There is no need to start over.

Be sure to receive all recommended doses of this vaccine or you may not be fully protected against disease.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after receiving this vaccine?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

What are the possible side effects of this vaccine?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash with blistering and peeling).

You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shots caused any side effects.

Becoming infected with measles, mumps, or rubella is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • red, tender bumps under your skin;
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
  • high fever (within a few hours or a few days after the vaccine);
  • easy bruising or bleeding;
  • new or worsening cough, trouble breathing;
  • problems with balance or muscle movement;
  • a seizure; or
  • nervous system problems --numbness, pain, tingling, weakness, burning or prickly feeling, vision or hearing problems, trouble breathing.

You may have joint pain 2 to 4 weeks after receiving an MMR vaccine. This is more common in women and teenaged girls.

Common side effects include:

  • headache, dizziness;
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
  • runny nose, sore throat, not feeling well;
  • muscle pain, joint pain or stiffness; or
  • feeling irritable (fussiness in a young child).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.

What other drugs will affect measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine?

MMR vaccine is sometimes given at the same time as other vaccines. Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received.

Also tell the doctor if you have recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system, including:

  • steroid medicine;
  • chemotherapy or radiation treatments;
  • medications to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders; or
  • medicines to treat or prevent organ transplant rejection.

Other drugs may affect MMR vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about this vaccine. Additional information is available from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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