Can mumps be prevented?

Mumps is a highly preventable disease because of the effectiveness of the MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccine. Children are usually vaccinated against mumps between 12 and 15 months of age and then again between the ages of 4 and 6.

Mumps is considered a rare disease, with only a few hundred cases each year in the United States. Still, outbreaks occur in the United States on a regular basis, especially in places where there is close human contact, such as schools and dormitories. Therefore, it is important that your child be vaccinated to reduce his or her risk of contracting the disease.

How safe is the MMR vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. A single dose of the vaccine provides long-lasting immunity. The most common adverse events following the MMR vaccine are pain where the vaccine is given, fever, a mild rash, and swollen glands in the cheeks or neck.

Despite concern in the popular press and among some parents, many carefully performed scientific studies have found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. A concern of some parents is whether the MMR vaccine contains thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in some vaccines distributed in multi-dose vials. The MMR vaccines do not and never did contain thimerosal.

Very rarely, a child may have an allergic reaction to the MMR vaccine. Call your doctor immediately if your child has difficulty breathing, fatigue, loss of color, or wheezing after receiving the vaccine.

Children with minor illnesses, such as upper respiratory tract infections, may be immunized. Fever is not a contraindication to immunization, but if the child has a more serious illness, your pediatrician may advise delaying the vaccine until your child has recovered. Tell your child’s pediatrician if your child:

  • Has had seizures in the past or has a parent or sibling who have suffered seizures.
  • Is currently taking medications that may affect his or her immune system.
  • Has a blood disorder.
  • Had a bad reaction to an earlier MMR dose or vaccine.

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