Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine
British Columbia Specific Information
Measles, mumps, and rubella can all spread easily, but can also all be prevented by the same vaccine. The Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine is provided free as part of your child’s routine immunization schedule. It may also be provided free to certain older children or adults. For more information about the MMR vaccine, see HealthLinkBC File #14a Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Vaccine or visit ImmunizeBC.
For more information about routine immunizations, visit HealthLink BC - B.C. Immunization Schedules.
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine
|Generic Name||Brand Name|
|measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine||M-M-R II, Priorix|
|measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (mmrv) vaccine||Priorix-Tetra|
How It Works
The vaccine helps your body make chemicals called antibodies to fight off the viruses. The vaccine is given as a shot (injection).
There is a measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (MMRV, or Priorix-Tetra) shot that also protects against chickenpox (varicella). Talk to your child's doctor or public health nurse about the pros and cons of the MMRV shot. It can be given to children age 12 and younger.
Why It Is Used
Two doses are given to provide lifelong protection. The first shot is given at 12 months of age, and the second is usually given at around 18 months of age or later but before the child enters school.
Sometimes MMR shots are given before a child is 1 year of age, such as during a measles outbreak or if the child is travelling to an area where measles is common. In these cases, the child will receive two doses of the MMR vaccine after the child's first birthday. footnote 2
You can keep track of when your child received vaccines using the National Childhood Immunization Record (What is a PDF document?) or the Alberta childhood immunization record (What is a PDF document?) .
Adults born before 1970 generally are considered immune to measles and mumps. Adults born after 1970 who did not have measles or the vaccine should get one dose. If these adults born after 1970 do not have immunity and are likely to be in contact with measles, they should get two doses: footnote 2
- Health care workers
- University students
- Travellers to parts of the world where there are measles
- Military recruits
How Well It Works
One dose given at 12 or 15 months of age is about 85% to 95% effective. After the second dose is given, nearly 100% of children are protected for life.
- Soreness, redness, and swelling where the shot was given.
- Temporary pain or stiffness in the joints (usually affects women).
Mild reactions that may occur one to two weeks after getting the vaccine include:
- Mild rash.
- Swollen glands in the cheeks or neck (this is a rare).
Even though serious allergic reactions are rare with this vaccine, call your doctor or local health unit right away if you or your child has trouble breathing, a high fever, or anything unusual after having the shot.
A child who has had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose should not get another dose of the vaccine. Tell your doctor or public health nurse if your child has had a severe reaction to any vaccine or has severe allergies.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
People with a mild illness, such as a cold, can get the vaccine. But if they are more ill, they should wait until they are better. If women get an MMR or MMRV vaccine, they should wait 4 weeks until getting pregnant.
- People with allergies to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin (people with gelatin allergy can receive the MMRV vaccine)
- Pregnant women
- People who had a severe reaction to the first dose of the vaccine
Talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine if you: footnote 3
- Have HIV or AIDS .
- Have taken medicine, such as steroids, that affects your immune system for more than two weeks.
- Have cancer.
- Have ever had a low platelet count.
- Have recently had a transfusion or received any blood products.
In the past, children with allergies to eggs were thought to be at high risk for serious reactions to the MMR vaccine because it is made with chick embryo cells. But recent studies have shown that the risk of allergic reaction from the MMR vaccine is extremely low for these people, and vaccination is recommended.
- National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) (2010). Statement on measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine. Canada Communicable Disease Report, 36(ACS-9): 1–22. Also available online: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/ccdr-rmtc/10vol36/acs-9/index-eng.php.
- National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) (2006). Measles vaccine. In Canadian Immunization Guide, 7th ed., pp. 228–236. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada. Also available online: http://publications.gc.ca.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2003). Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines: What you need to know. Vaccine Information Statement. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Immunization Program. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/VIS/vis-mmr.pdf.
Current as of: August 21, 2015
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
Want More Information?
HealthLink BC, your provincial health line, is as close as your phone or the web any time of the day or night, every day of the year.
Call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. or for deaf and hearing-impaired, call 7-1-1.
You can speak with a health service representative, who can also connect you with a:
- registered nurse any time, every day of the year;
- registered dietitian from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday;
- pharmacist from 5pm to 9am, every day of the year.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
Speak to a Pharmacist
Do you have questions about medications? You can call 8-1-1 (or 7-1-1 for the hearing-impaired) to talk to a pharmacist about your medication questions. Our pharmacists are available by calling 8-1-1 every night from 5pm to 9am - when your community pharmacist may be unavailable.
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.