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What is the MMR Vaccine?

mmr vaccine
Measles, mumps and rubella are all viral diseases that can interrupt the development of children and adolescents. Accessing reliable information about the MMR vaccine is the most cost-effective method to increasing its uptake.

The MMR vaccine is recommended in childhood. The three-in-one vaccine is necessary for most children to enter school and can be given as early as 11-15 months, and children should get two doses. In addition, adults born after 1956 or 18 years or older should also receive one dose of the vaccination unless they have already had all three diseases.

The MMR vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines. Young children (under 12 years) can get a combination of vaccines known as the MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox).

Upon receiving the vaccination, there are some risks involved, but most people who receive the vaccine do not develop any problems.

Mild issues can occur 6-14 days after receiving the vaccine and can include any of the following: fevers, mild rashes, and swelling of cheek/neck glands. Moderate issues can range from: seizures, stiffness/ pain in joints, temporary low platelet count that leads to a bleeding disorder (1 in every 30,000 doses). Some severe and very rare problems are: serious allergic reaction (1 in every million doses), deafness, permanent brain damage, and long-term seizures/comas. There is no evidence that the vaccine causes childhood autism.

All of these listed risks are small however, in comparison with the risks of contracting measles: severe illness, hospitalization and death. The vaccine itself has brought huge leaps in early childhood disease prevention, providing vaccination to over 500 million people worldwide in over 100 countries. Before the vaccine, mumps was the most common cause of viral meningitis in children and rubella caused terrible damage to unborn babies.

Now, both mumps and rubella are virtually non-existent in children.

The Measles Outbreak

With concern to the current measles outbreak of 2014, two doses are recommended because 2-5 percent of vaccinated people do not respond to their first dose. More than 99 percent of people develop immunity after
the second dose.

Out of the 593 confirmed cases of measles, very few were from people who had been vaccinated twice.

The virus itself can stay in the air for two hours after a person with measles symptoms have left the area and is spread by respiratory droplets. The people infected are contagious four days before and after receiving the rash.

International Outbreak

In the third world countries of the world, measles outbreaks have been spreading more freely, with thousands of cases. In the Philippines, there were 50,000 registered cases and 77 deaths. In Vietnam, there are at least
8,700 cases with 112 deaths in children. In Pakistan, over 30,000 people have caught measles and 290 people have died, with the number increasing daily for children alone. The effect of measles has been spreading due to a lack of proper vaccination, more vulnerable immune systems and misinformation (MMR vaccine may produce autism).

In Africa, the number of measles-related deaths have decreased by 91 percent due to a surge in immunization. However, cases have still been growing, a number well into the thousands.

The potential benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. Parents should understand that the MMR vaccine is the best way to protect their children from these diseases, especially if traveling to an affected area, or the family resides in an affected area.

Ashley Riley

Sources: About, About 2, CDC, CDC 2
Photo: Medimoon