The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella and is normally given to children in two doses -- one at 12 months of age and one at 18 months. The vaccine also can be administered to pregnant women who are not immune to rubella and older children (or adults born after 1956) who have not been vaccinated.
The following people should not receive this vaccine:
Measles, mumps and rubella are all viruses that can be spread through the air by coughing and sneezing.
Measles symptoms include fever, rash and cold-like symptoms, and can lead to ear infections and/or pneumonia. More serious conditions can lead to inflammation of the brain.
Mumps symptoms include headaches, fever, and swelling of the salivary glands and cheeks. Mumps also can cause temporary deafness, and in serious cases, can lead to inflammation of the brain.
Rubella (aka German measles) symptoms are similar to that of regular measles. In pregnant women, infection can cause birth defects including deafness, eye problems, heart defects, liver problems and brain damage.
The MMR vaccine (as well as other immunizations recommended for children) have been the subject of debate as to whether they cause autism. However, scientific studies by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the UK National Health Service, and the Cochrane Library have found no link between the vaccine and autism. The MMR vaccine is still recommended as a safe and effective way to prevent these sometimes life-threatening diseases.
Side effects of the MMR vaccine include soreness and swelling of injection area, mild fever, rash, swelling of glands in the cheek or neck, and joint stiffness.
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