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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 vaccines. The Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine or the Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella (MMRV) vaccine are provided free as part of your child’s routine immunization schedule. The MMR vaccine may also be provided free to certain older children or adults. For more information about the MMR or MMRV vaccines, see HealthLinkBC File #14a Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Vaccine, HealthLinkBC File #14e Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella (MMRV) Vaccine, visit ImmunizeBC.

For more information about routine immunizations, see the B.C. Immunization Schedules.

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) 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.

Side Effects

Most people who get this vaccine do not have any problems.footnote 1, footnote 2 They may have:

  • 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:

  • Fever.
  • Mild rash.
  • Swollen glands in the cheeks or neck (this is a rare).

More serious reactions to these vaccines are uncommon. These include having a seizure caused by a fever, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), and temporary low platelet count.

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.)

Why It Is Used

Measles, mumps, and rubella were once very common childhood illnesses in North America. Today, these illnesses are very rare because of widespread MMR immunization programs.

For children

Two doses are given. In BC, the first shot is given at 12 months of age, and the second dose is usually given around 4 to 6 years of age as MMRV.

Sometimes MMR shots are given as early as 6 months of age, such as during a measles outbreak or if the child is travelling to an area where measles is common.

For adults

Adults born before 1970 generally are considered immune to measles and mumps. However, some of these individuals may be susceptible and should talk to their health care provider about getting vaccinated.

In BC, adults born after 1970 who did not have measles or the vaccine should get two doses.

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.

Certain people should not get the vaccines:footnote 3, footnote 2

    • Pregnant women
    • People who have had a history of anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of a measles, mumps, or rubella containing vaccine or to any component of the product, with the exception of an egg allergy
    • Have active, untreated tuberculosis (TB)

Talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine if you:

    • Are immunocompromised as a result of disease or therapy.
    • Have a family history of congenital immunodeficiency.
    • 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.

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, it is nearly 100% effective.


measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine



measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (MMRV) vaccine

Priorix-Tetra, ProQuad



  1. 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:
  2. 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:
  3. 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:


Adaptation Date: 12/15/2022

Adapted By: HealthLink BC

Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC