Who Needs an MMR Vaccine?

The MMR vaccine protects people against measles, mumps, and rubella.

It has been available since 1971, first as a single dose, then with a second dose added to the immunization schedule in 1990.

Who Needs an MMR Vaccine?

With the rise in measles cases and outbreaks, you might be wondering if you need an extra dose of the MMR vaccine.

Are you fully vaccinated and protected against measles?

Have you had one dose or two doses of the MMR vaccine?

Are you traveling out of the country or do you have any other risk factors for getting measles?

Did you get one of the original, inactivated measles vaccines that were used between 1963 and 1967, before the live vaccine became available? If you did, or you aren’t sure which vaccine you got at that time, you likely aren’t fully protected and need another dose.

Vaccine preventable diseases are just a plane ride away.
Vaccine preventable diseases are just a plane ride away.

In general, adults who have had two doses of MMR are considered to be fully vaccinated. You do not need to check your titers and you do not need another dose for measles protection.

You are also likely protected if you were born before 1957, as most people had measles back then, in the pre-vaccine era.

Confusing matters a bit, some adults who were born before the recommendation to get a second dose might still be considered fully vaccinated if they are not high risk.

What makes someone high risk?

  • traveling out of the country!
  • working in healthcare
  • being a student in college or other post-high school educational institution
  • living with someone who has a compromised immune system
  • people with HIV infection

So to be considered fully vaccinated and protected against measles, these high risk adults should have two doses of MMR.

What about kids?

If following the immunization schedule, kids will get two doses of MMR, with the first dose at age 12-15 months and a second dose when they are 4-6 years old.

There are situations in which they should get an early dose of MMR though, including:

  • infants 6 through 11 months of age who are traveling out of the United States should receive one dose of MMR vaccine, a dose that will have to be repeated when they are 12 months old.
  • children 1 to 3 years of age and older who are traveling out of the United States should receive two doses of MMR vaccine (instead of waiting to get the second dose when they are 4-6 years old), separated by at least 28 days. This second dose doesn’t have to be repeated.

Being exposed to measles or simply getting caught up in an outbreak might be another reason for young children to get an early first or second dose of MMR and for adults to get caught up.

What if you aren’t traveling out of the country, but are traveling to an area inside the United States that is experiencing a large outbreak of measles?

To help control their large outbreak, kids in Rockland County should get their MMR doses early.
To help control their large outbreak, kids in Rockland County should get their MMR doses early.

If you can’t delay your travel plans, check the local health department recommendations, and talk to your pediatrician if your child needs an early MMR.

The MMR vaccine is safe, with few risks.

Having measles isn’t.

More on Getting the MMR Vaccine

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