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.
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?
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
- VAXOPEDIA – What to Do If Your Child Is Exposed to Measles
- VAXOPEDIA – How Often Should You Do Vaccine Titer Testing?
- VAXOPEDIA – How Contagious Is Measles?
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Are You Still Worried About the MMR Vaccine?
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Are Anti-Vaccine Folks Panicking over the Measles Outbreaks?
- VAXOPEDIA – Did the Measles Vaccine Have Only a Meager Effect on Deaths?
- VAXOPEDIA – Fact Checking an Anti-Vaccine Measles Outbreak Quiz
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Do We Only Worry About Measles?
- VAXOPEDIA – Fun and Games with Measles?
- VAXOPEDIA – When Was the Last Measles Death in the United States?
- VAXOPEDIA – Who Is at Risk If You Don’t Vaccinate Your Kids?
- VAXOPEDIA – Show Me the Vaccine Insert!
- CDC – Measles Vaccination
- Is the MMR vaccine safe?
- MMR vaccine—worries are not justified
- Is the MMR Vaccine Safe?
- CDC – Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine Safety Studies
- Vaccine Safety Bibliography
- Questions about the safety of MMR vaccine
- Questions about the impact of MMR vaccination
- Comparing risks – Measles
- Questions about MMR vaccine
- MMR vaccine safety
- Measles: Questions and Answers
- Talking About Vaccines MMR
- Ask the Experts About MMR
- NHS – MMR vaccine side effects
- ECDC – Addressing misconceptions on measles vaccination
- CDC – Possible Side-effects from Vaccines
- CDC – Frequently Asked Questions about Measles in the U.S.
- Measles Information For Health Professionals
- Frequently Asked Questions about Measles
- Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children
- Top 20 Questions about Vaccination