MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) Vaccine

You can protect your child from THREE diseases by giving them one easy shot called the MMR. It protects children against measles, mumps, and rubella.

In Canada, children should get the MMR shot twice. They can get it when they are:

  • 12 months of age and 18 months of age OR
  • 12 months of age and before beginning school (ages 4 yrs to 6 yrs)

It is safe to give the second MMR shot only one month after the first MMR shot.

What is "measles"?

It is a disease caused by a virus. (A virus is a kind of germ that can make people sick.) Sometimes it is called "red measles" (or rubeola) so it will not be confused with "German measles" (or rubella.)

Measles begin with a fever, runny nose, a cough, and very red eyes. You may think your child has a cold.

In a few days, a rash begins around the face and spreads to the arms, legs, and chest. The eyes may hurt in bright light.

Measles can cause an ear infection or pneumonia (a serious disease where fluid fills the lungs).

One out of 1,000 children, who get measles, will also get swelling of the brain called encephalitis. This can lead to seizures, deafness, mental retardation, or death.

There is no treatment for measles.

How are measles spread?

It spreads quickly by droplets (bits of saliva spread when coughing or sneezing). It is very easy to catch measles.

What is "mumps"?

It is a disease caused by a virus. (A virus is a kind of germ that can make people sick.)

Mumps is most common in children, although, sometimes adults do get it.

Mumps causes fever, headache, and swelling of the salivary glands inside the mouth. This swelling is painful and makes the cheeks puff out. Sometimes, mumps can cause meningitis - a serious disease that infects the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.

Mumps can cause deafness.

In adults, mumps can affect woman's eggs or a man's sperm. A man who gets mumps may become sterile (unable to have children). For both men and women, mumps can be very painful.

How are mumps spread?

It is spread by close contact between people. It spreads quickly by droplets (bits of saliva spread when coughing or sneezing).

What is "rubella"?

Rubella is also known as "German measles". Like red measles, rubella is caused by a virus. (A virus is a kind of germ that can make people sick.)

Rubella is milder than red measles. Children can get a low fever and a mild cold; a rash may follow. Glands in the neck may swell up. The sickness lasts about three days.

How is rubella spread?

It is spread by close contact between people. It spreads quickly by droplets (bits of saliva spread when coughing or sneezing).

How safe is the MMR vaccine?

It is very safe. The only children who should not get the MMR shot are those who have had trouble breathing OR had severe swelling on the skin or in the mouth after their first shot.

With any vaccine, there may be some redness, swelling, or pain at the place where the needle went into the arm or leg. Some children will have a fever and a rash. Some have joint pains that last a little while. Your doctor can tell you what to give to control the fever or pain.

If you have questions about the MMR vaccine, ask your doctor.

 

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