The best way to protect our loved ones from various avoidable infectious diseases is the vaccination against them. Vaccinations boost our immunity to fight against infection-causing pathogens. They also prevent the transmission of contagious diseases.
Vaccination and immunization protect children from preventable life-threatening diseases. Right after birth to till the age of 12, your child’s immunity is not strong, and they are vulnerable to various viral and bacterial infections. Certain vaccine-preventable diseases (diphtheria, whooping cough, HPV, measles, and tetanus) are still common and harmful to children. The best solution to prevent your child from these illnesses is vaccination. Although it didn’t guarantee total prevention, it reduces the risk and severity of the disease.
Let’s discuss the MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccination.
The MMR vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects against three highly infectious illnesses:
- Rubella (German measles)
MMR vaccine contains live-attenuated measles, mumps, and rubella virus, which trains our immune response to recognize the pathogen and helps fight against it during infection. Separate vaccines for these infectious diseases are not available.
Who needs MMR vaccines?
The MMR vaccine is available in an injection form, given as a subcutaneous route. The MMR vaccine also comes as the MMRV vaccine that provides immunization against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox). The MMR vaccine is available for:
According to the National Immunization schedule by the Indian government, all children should get two doses of MMR vaccine:
- First dose at 12 to 15 months of age
- Second dose at 4 to 6 years of age
After the first dose, children can also receive the next vaccine earlier than usual (at least 28 days after the first dose).
Adults, who need MMR immunization, are:
- Some adults do not know about their childhood vaccinations and do not have immunity against the disease. In that case, they should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.
- Adults living or going in high-risk areas for measles and mumps transmission may need two doses separated by at least 28 days.
- Healthcare providers in risk areas should have two doses of MMR vaccine with a minimal interval of 28 days.
- Women of reproductive age:
Women should get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine at childbearing age when they don’t have prospective immunity against the diseases and are not pregnant.
Live vaccines, such as the MMR vaccine are detrimental to pregnant women and their babies in the womb.
MMR vaccine is safe during the nursing (breastfeeding) period.
A healthcare provider recommends a measles vaccination for anyone six months of age and older traveling overseas. The vaccination schedule before any international travel is:
- A single dose of MMR vaccination for infants six months to 11 months of age
- Children over the age of 12 months should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days
- Teenagers and adults without the prospective immunity against measles and mumps should get two doses of vaccines by at least 28 days gap.
- During a pandemic outbreak:
The measles or mumps outbreak might require an additional dose of MMR vaccine for those in groups at high risk for getting mumps or measles.
Contraindications of MMR vaccination
The contraindications and precautions of MMR vaccines may be temporary or permanent. A healthcare provider should evaluate an individual condition before administering the vaccine. The contraindications of MMR vaccines are:
- Pregnant women
- A person having high-grade fever or inflammatory disease
- The person had a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis after the first MMR vaccine
- A person having weakened immunity due to illnesses (HIV or cancer), medication (immunotherapy, chemotherapy, steroids, or radiation), or a sibling having immune system issues
- Bleeding disorder
- A person has a recent history of blood transfusion. The doctor advises postponing the vaccine for at least three months.
- History of severe allergies
MMR vaccine is a weakened live virus vaccine. The two-dose of MMR vaccine provides more than 90% protection against measles, mumps, and rubella. It provides long-term protection against measles and rubella, but the immunity against mumps decreases over time. So, if you are a resident of an area with higher chances of a mumps outbreak, then an additional booster dose is advisable.