MMR Vaccine: Debunking Myths
The MMR vaccine is an important vaccine for children to prevent infection from measles, mumps, and rubella. These three diseases are very common among children and the vaccine can protect them for life.
Measles, mumps, and rubella are contagious viral infections. Measles can cause high fever and severe flu-like symptoms such as cough and a runny nose, as well as pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhea, and a rash covering the body. In rare cases, it can also cause brain damage and lead to death.
Mumps can also cause fever, in addition to muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Most people will experience swelling of the salivary glands under the ears and a swollen jaw. It can also cause deafness and swelling of the brain, and in rare cases, lead to death.
Rubella has symptoms similar to measles, such as a fever, a sore throat, and rash. Other symptoms include headaches and eye irritation. It can also cause arthritis in teenagers and adult women. For pregnant women, there’s a high risk of miscarriage or the baby being born with serious birth defects.
Due to the severity of these diseases, it is highly recommended that children receive 2 doses of the MMR vaccine, with the first dose administered at 12 months of age and the second one administered at ages 4. Sometimes during outbreaks, a third dose may be recommended. And for babies traveling outside the US between 6 months and 11 months, it is best that they receive the vaccine prior to travel.
There are many myths regarding the MMR vaccine. Below are some of them along with facts.
Myth: The vaccine can cause autism.
Fact: There is no scientific data indicating a connection between the two. There is, however, a lot of evidence that the vaccine does not cause autism.
Myth: The vaccine is fatal.
Fact: No deaths have been associated with the vaccine among healthy people. The vaccine may have side effects such as fever, dizziness, soreness, a rash, and swelling, which are usually temporary. There are other rarely documented side effects which are not commonly seen. It’s important to note that vaccines undergo a vetting process before being approved and for most children, the vaccine is safer than the risk of getting infected by Measles, Mumps or Rubella.
Myth: The MMR vaccine can cause measles.
Fact: The vaccine is made from a live virus, although it does not contain measles and the virus is weakened to the point that it cannot cause disease. Instead, it causes your body to recognize the virus and develop immunity.
Myth: The MMR vaccine does not protect people from Measles, Mumps or Rubella.
The MMR vaccine is the best way to prevent the spread of Measles, Mumps and Rubella and saves thousands of lives every year. As Measles, Mumps and Rubella are highly contagious, outbreaks occur in the US. But the vaccine has been able to lower the number of deaths and the number of people infected. While proper sanitation can help, Measles, Mumps and Rubella can be spread from person to person and through the air.
Why can’t I just get them as separate vaccines? A Measles vaccine, a Mumps vaccine and a Rubella vaccine separately?
The Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccines are not manufactured separately in the United States, it is only available as a combination vaccine of MMR. They have not been available as stand alone vaccines since the 1970s in the US. Some reasoning for this is that the combination vaccine was proven to have superior effectiveness and less risk of side effects.
At Peninsula Pediatrics, we firmly believe in the effectiveness of vaccines to prevent serious illness and to save lives as well as the safety of our vaccines. We follow the vaccine schedule outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). If you have any questions or concerns about the MMR vaccine or any other vaccines, please contact our office.