Measles, Mumps, Rubella VaccineEn Español (Spanish Version)
is a viral infection that spreads easily. It is caused by the measles virus.
The virus is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of an infected person. Less commonly, it can be spread by droplets in the air. It is typically spread in winter and spring.
- Fever (often high)
- Runny nose
- Eye irritation
- A unique rash
Measles was once a common childhood illness. Now, there are fewer cases of measles in the United States. This is due to the measles vaccine. But, there have been outbreaks in recent years.
You are very unlikely to get measles if you were immunized as a child. However, people who were not vaccinated or were not vaccinated enough are at increased risk.
Measles is caused by a virus. It cannot be treated with antibiotics. Efforts are focused on relieving the symptoms.
The measles vaccine consists of live measles viruses made in chicken embryo cells. The viruses found in the vaccine have been made harmless during the manufacturing process.
It is normally given in combination with:
The vaccine is given under the skin.
All children (with few exceptions) should receive the vaccine two times:
- 12-15 months
- 4-6 years (school entry)—can be given earlier, but the two doses must be separated by at least four weeks
The vaccine can also be given to infants younger than 12 months who will be traveling internationally. These infants should also get the two routine shots at ages 12-15 months and 4-6 years.
Adults born after 1956 who have not been previously vaccinated may need 1-2 doses. Talk with your doctor if you were not previously vaccinated.
The majority of people who get the vaccine do not have any side effects. The most common side effects are a fever and a rash. Redness and swelling at the injection site may occur. Rare complications include:
—severe, life-threatening allergic reaction
Seizures—in children inclined to have
(convulsion during high fevers)
- Permanent brain damage
In some cases, the vaccine should be delayed, such as:
- People who are very sick.
- Women who are planning to become pregnant or those who are pregnant
Most children and teens should receive their vaccinations on schedule. However, certain groups should not be vaccinated:
People with immune system disorders (eg,
)—If you have HIV and are doing well, you should consider getting the vaccine. Measles can be fatal if you have HIV.
- People being treated with drugs that affect the immune system
- People who have cancer or are being treated for cancer with radiation or drugs
- People with a low platelet count
- People who have received another vaccine within the past four weeks
- People who have had a recent transfusion or who have received other blood products
- Pregnant women—Avoid becoming pregnant for at least one month after getting the vaccine.
- Previous severe allergic reaction to the vaccine or its components
If you have the measles, you should be isolated to stop the virus from spreading. For example, children with the measles should stay home until the virus is over.
A case of the measles needs to be reported to public health authorities. If you think you or your child has the measles, call the doctor right away.
Anyone who may have been exposed and has not been fully immunized will need to receive the vaccine.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
American Academy of Pediatrics
Vaccines & Immunizations
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Baker CJ, Pickerling LK, Chilton L, et al; Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Recommended adult immunization schedule: United States, 2011.
Ann Intern Med
. 1 Feb 2011. 154(3):168-173.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years —United States, 2012.
Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/wk/mm6105-Immunization.pdf. Accessed December 31, 2012.
Measles, mumps, and rubella: vaccine use and strategies for elimination of measles, rubella, and congenital rubella syndrome and control of mumps: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MMWR website. Available at:
Published May 22, 1998. Accessed December 31, 2012.
Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-6 years—United States, 2012. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
Published December 23, 2011. Accessed December 31, 2012.
1/31/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years—United States, 2008.
. 2008;57;Q1-Q4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MMWR website. Available at:
Updated January 10, 2008. Accessed January 28, 2008.
5/27/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Measles—United States, January—May 20, 2011.
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep.
2011 May 20 early online.
Last Reviewed December 2012