Measles can be prevented with the MMR vaccine. The most common side effects are fever, rash, and gland swelling. There are rare reports of deafness, seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, and brain damage.
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What is the measles vaccine?
What are measles vaccine names?
Who gets the measles vaccine?
Who should NOT get a measles vaccine?
How many shots do I need?
What is the immunization schedule for measles?
What are common side effects?
What are severe side effects of measles vaccines?
Where can I get more information?
Measles is a highly-contagious viral disease that spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or breathes. You can get measles just by being in the same room as someone who is infected.
Immunizations against measles, mumps, and rubella are live attenuated vaccines. This means the vaccine contains three types of live viruses that have been significantly weakened.
- Attenuvax® Measles Virus Vaccine Live
- M-M-R II® Vaccine (MMR Vaccine)
- M-R-Vax II® (Measles and Rubella Virus Vaccine Live)
- ProQuad® Vaccine (MMRV) — No longer sold in the U.S.
Children should get two doses of the MMR vaccine for protection against measles. Two doses of the vaccine are recommended, one at 12-15 months of age, and the second at 4-6 years of age.
Infants between the ages of 6 and 11 months old who are traveling internationally should receive one dose of the MMR vaccine, followed by two doses on the normal schedule for a total of three shots.
Teenagers and adults should also be up-to-date on their measles vaccination.
Travelers born before 1989 may need another dose of the MMR vaccine because they probably only received one dose when they were immunized as children. Two doses are recommended today.
People who are moderately or severely sick (with or without fever) should wait until they get better before receiving a measles vaccine.
The measles vaccine (MMR) is not recommended for people who are:
- Pregnant — Do not get pregnant within 3 months of vaccination
- Had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) after a previous measles vaccine, or to any ingredient in the vaccine
- Severe allergy to eggs
- Known severe immunodeficiency (e.g., from hematologic and solid tumors, receipt of chemotherapy, congenital immunodeficiency, long-term immunosuppressive therapy or patients with HIV infection who are severely immunocompromised)
Two shots of the MMR vaccine given at least 4 weeks apart are necessary for full protection against measles.
Before 1989, only one dose of the MMR vaccine was recommended. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) started recommending another dose after studies showed that one dose was not as effective.
Two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended for immunization against measles. The first shot is given at 12-15 months of age, and the second shot is given just before starting school at 4-6 years old.
Adults born before 1957 might not need a measles vaccine. Measles was so common back then that nearly everyone was exposed to it and developed immunity. It is a good idea to check with your doctor.
People who were born between 1957 and 1989 may need another shot of the measles vaccine. Only one shot of the MMR vaccine was recommended before 1989, but it is not as effective as two shots.
The most common side effects of measles vaccines in children include fever, mild rash, and swelling of the glands in the cheeks. Teenagers and adults are more likely to develop temporary joint pain and stiffness after receiving the measles vaccine.
To learn more about the side effects associated with the measles vaccines, please visit this page: Measles Vaccine Side Effects.
Measles vaccines can occasionally cause severe side effects or even death. The most common serious side effect is a febrile seizure (high fever causing seizure), which is estimated to occur in 1 in every 3,000 children who receive the MMR vaccine. Other severe side effects include a bleeding disorder known as thrombocytopenia (1 in 30,000 children) and life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis (less than 1 in a million).