MMR vaccine is one of the most important vaccinations for babies, that it is included even in their immunization schedule. It is a combined vaccine that protects against three serious diseases: Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. All three are viral diseases and contagious which spread from person to person through the air. Before going to know about the MMR vaccine, let us have quick detail about the diseases it protects from.
Measles is an easily spread infection. It is generally characterized by a rash all over the body, cough, eye irritation, runny nose, and fever. The virus that causes measles lives in the mucus of the nose and throat of an infected person. Hence, the infection spreads if a person comes into contact with the infected droplets of mucus when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Left untreated, measles can lead to fatal complications such as pneumonia, ear infections, brain damage, seizures and in some cases leads to death.
Mumps is a viral infection that mainly affects the salivary glands that are located below and in front of the years. Swollen salivary glands are the most common symptom of mumps. The swollen salivary glands make the cheeks look puffy. Besides this, one infected with mumps may experience fever, headache, loss of appetite, tiredness and muscle aches. Similar to measles, the virus that causes mumps gets transmitted through the infected droplets of saliva while coughing or sneezing. In the case of negligence, mumps can lead to a permanent hearing loss in one or both ears.
Rubella is also referred to as German Measles. It is a mild infection that often occurs during childhood. It can be easily distinguished by its distinctive rash. Though rubella becomes fatal in rare cases, the virus is extremely dangerous for the fetus in early pregnancy. If a non-immune pregnant woman gets infected with rubella, the virus affects the fetus that results in severe congenital malformations. Rubella transmits from person to person in the same way as measles and mumps. Complications of rubella include miscarriages in early pregnancy, congenital malformations, the death of newborn babies, and developmental delays in children.
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How is MMR vaccination beneficial?
As said earlier, the MMR vaccine protects from three fatal diseases in a single shot. So, one need not get three separate vaccinations to stay protected.
When is the right time to get the MMR Vaccine?
Usually, the first dose of the MMR vaccine is given when the baby is 12 – 15 months old. The second dose will be given at the age of 4 to 6 years.
Who should get MMR Vaccine?
Adults or children who have missed one or all doses of MMR vaccine when they were younger can get their vaccination at any age. Also, if anyone is not sure about their vaccination can get the MMR vaccine during the time of outbreaks. This may include:
- International Travellers
- Women who are planning for pregnancy
- Healthcare professionals
Who should not get MMR Vaccine?
People who should not receive the MMR vaccine include:
- During pregnancy, women should not get the MMR vaccine as it would be risky for the baby. Women who are planning to get their MMR vaccine should wait 4 weeks before getting pregnant. But, it is safe to get the vaccine while breastfeeding.
- People who are allergic to gelatin and a medication called neomycin should not get the MMR vaccine
Also, people with certain medical conditions should talk to their doctor if they are planning to get the MMR vaccine which includes:
- Immune system disorder
- Blood disorders and recent blood transfusion
- Moderate or severe illness
What are the risks and side effects of the MMR Vaccine?
In general, most of the people who get the MMR vaccine don’t have any side effects. Some may get a fever or have mild soreness and redness where they have got the shot. In rare cases, some may experience:
- Skin rash
- Swollen glands
- Joint pain or stiffness
- Low platelet count