Frequently Asked Questions

Can the vaccine cause mumps?

No. While the vaccine is made from a live virus, it is attenuated, meaning it has been weakened. It can cause minor symptoms like fever, but it cannot cause mumps.

Who should get the MMR vaccine?

Children should get two doses of MMR vaccine:

  • First dose: 12-15 months of age
  • Second dose: 4-6 years of age (may be given earlier, if at least 28 days after the first dose)

Some infants younger than 12 months should get a dose of MMR if they are traveling out of the country. This dose will not count toward their routine series.

Some adults should also get a MMR vaccine. Generally, anyone 18 years of age or older who was born after 1957 should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine, unless they can show that they have had all three diseases covered by the vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella).

MMR vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Who should get the MMRV vaccine?

Children between 1 and 12 years of age can get a "combination" vaccine called MMRV, which contains both MMR and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines.

Two doses of MMRV vaccine are recommended:

  • The first dose at 12 through 15 months of age
  • The second dose at 4 through 6 years of age

These are recommended ages. But children can get the second dose up through 12 years as long as it is at least 3 months after the first dose.

Children may also get these vaccines as two separate shots: MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and varicella vaccines.

Anyone 13 or older who needs protection from these diseases should get MMR and varicella vaccines as separate shots.

MMRV may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

Who should NOT receive a mumps vaccine?

Anyone who experiences a severe allergic reaction (e.g., hives, swelling of the mouth or throat, difficulty breathing) following the first MMR/MMRV shot should not receive a second shot. Anyone who knows they are allergic to a vaccine component (gelatin, neomycin) should not receive this vaccine.

Pregnant women should not receive the MMR vaccine, and pregnancy should be avoided for four weeks following vaccination with MMR. While there is no evidence that the mumps vaccine causes fetal damage, women are advised not to receive the MMR vaccine during pregnancy as a safety precaution based on the theoretical possibility of a live vaccine causing disease.

Severely immunocompromised people should not be given MMR vaccine. Immunocompromised means a person is less capable of battling infections because of an immune response that is not properly functioning. This includes people with a variety of conditions, including congenital immunodeficiency, AIDS, leukemia, lymphoma, generalized malignancy, or those undergoing immunosuppressive therapy.

Can individuals with an egg allergy receive a MMR vaccine?

Yes, individuals with egg allergies can safely receive the vaccine. If you have any concerns, speak to your health care provider.

How effective is the mumps vaccine?

Two doses of mumps vaccine are 88% effective at preventing the disease; one dose is 78% effective.

How safe is this vaccine?

MMR is a very safe vaccine. Most side effects are mild and related to the measles or rubella components of the vaccine (fever, rash, temporary joint symptoms). A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems such as severe allergic reactions. However, the risk of MMR vaccine causing serious harm is extremely small.

Does the MMR vaccine cause autism?

No, many large and reliable studies of MMR vaccine have been done in the United States and other countries. None of these studies have found a link between autism and the MMR vaccine.

Some people may mistakenly think MMR is linked to autism is because of a study published in 1998 from the United Kingdom. One of the authors claimed that the MMR vaccine could contribute to the development of autism. That study got a lot of attention in the news. Since 1998, 10 out of 13 of the study’s authors have withdrawn their support of the study, and the journal has retracted the article.

Some people who have had both of the recommended MMR shots are still getting mumps. Does that mean that the vaccine is not effective?

No, the mumps vaccine is effective. During outbreaks, we know that the people who have not been vaccinated against mumps have a much greater chance of getting mumps than those who are vaccinated. As with any vaccine, not everyone who is vaccinated will develop immunity and be protected. For the mumps vaccine, approximately 90% of people will be protected after receiving the recommended two vaccines but about 10% of individuals will not develop immunity and remain susceptible. So we expect that during an outbreak when many people are being exposed every day, some people will get the mumps.

Where can I get more information on mumps?

  • Your health care provider
  • Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: www.cdc.gov/mumps