Why kids need the MMR vaccine

baby_mmrWhile adult vaccines are not particularly “fun”, that adult is at least mature enough to make the decision and realizes the benefits. But parents’ immunization decisions for children can be disconcerting. This is especially true when the children are only 12-15 months, which is the recommended age for the MMR vaccine.

You might be asking, “Is this MMR vaccine necessary for my child? Will my baby have side effects from the shot? What is normal after the shot and when should I be concerned? And…what does MMR stand for, anyways?”

Hopefully, this information will ease and answer your concerns.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella (…”oh my”)

Getting measles, mumps or rubella is far more serious than side effects from getting immunized. The CDC says children should get a dose of MMR at 1 year and again at 4-6 years. A dose of the MMR immunization can be given with other vaccines. It is sometimes combined with the varicella (chickenpox) in the MMRV.

The CDC is a great source for what varying side effects you can expect your child to have with the MMR vaccine. They report that a fever is the most common effect, occuring in only about 1 out of 6 people.

Measles almost always produce a fever. If symptoms do not improve or worsen, the fever rises to above 38C (100F), the symptoms have gone but the fever hasn’t, your child might have measles and need to see a doctor.

Mumps is a disease caused by a virus that usually spreads through fluids from the mouth or nose. Like measles, it often begins as a fever. It then causes salivary glands to swell and become painful. In many cases the symptoms do not surface, but sometimes the swelling can become very noticeable and painful when the child talks, chews or swallows.

If mumps occurs in adolescent males, swelling may develop in the testicular area, or in females, the pancreas or ovaries.

Rubella is also known as German measles, though it is not caused by the same virus strain as measles. It affects mainly the skin and lymph nodes, and is spread through the air and mouth/nose fluids. The symptoms are similar to measles and mumps, though less severe and often don’t last as long.

The primary medical danger of rubella is pregnant women become infected because it can cause congenital rubella syndrome in their developing babies. Most rubella infections today appear in young, non-immunized adults rather than in kids.

Why Measles, Mumps and Rubella mainly spread among kids

These diseases are very contagious and travel through the air and nose/mouth fluids. You can catch them by simply being around someone who is infected. With nurseries, schools, playgrounds, not-yet-learned “personal space”…it’s no wonder children pass them easily.

Don’t get (or wait to get) the MMR vaccine if…

  • You’ve had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the antibiotic neomycin, or any other part of the MMR vaccine. Tell your doctor of ANY severe allergies you have before getting vaccinated.
  • You’ve had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of MMR or MMRV vaccine should not get another dose (booster).
  • You are sick. Consult with your doctor, but it is best to wait until you are feeling back to normal.
  • You are pregnant.  If you are pregnant and need the vaccine, wait until after giving birth. And once a woman gets the vaccine, she should avoid getting pregnant for 4 weeks after the MMR vaccinations.

If you have any questions about the MMR vaccine, feel free to call on of our ProHealth offices.