The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles).
MMR vaccinations are given by injection in two doses:
- at age 12-15 months
- at age 4-6 years
Children traveling outside the United States should get the vaccine as early as 6 months of age. Those who remain in an area where disease risk is high should receive two additional doses: at 12 months and then at least 4 weeks later.
Why the Vaccine Is Recommended
Measles, mumps, and rubella are infections that can lead to significant illness. More than 95% of children receiving MMR will be protected from the three diseases throughout their lives.
Serious problems such as allergic reactions are rare. Potential mild to moderate reactions include rash, fever, swollen cheeks, febrile seizures, and mild joint pain.
When to Delay or Avoid Immunization
The vaccine is not recommended if:
- your child is currently sick, although simple colds or other minor illnesses should not prevent immunization
- your child had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of MMR vaccine, to gelatin, or to the antibiotic neomycin
Talk to your doctor about whether it's a good idea for your child to be vaccinated if he or she:
Your doctor may determine that the benefits of vaccinating your child outweigh the potential risks.
Pregnant women should not receive the MMR vaccine until after childbirth.
Caring for Your Child After Immunization
If a rash develops without other symptoms, no treatment is necessary and it should resolve within several days. Pain and fever may be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Check with your doctor to see if you can give either medication, and find out the appropriate dose.
When to Call the Doctor
- Call if you aren't sure if the vaccine should be postponed or avoided.
- Call if there are problems after the immunization.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: February 2015