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Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine


Margot L. Savoy

, MD, MPH, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed/Revised Jul 2023 | Modified Aug 2023

The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is a combination vaccine that helps protect against these three serious viral infections. The vaccine contains live but weakened measles, mumps, and rubella viruses. The combination vaccine is used because anyone who needs protection against one of these infections also needs protection against the other two. Separate vaccines are not available.

These infections can cause serious problems:

For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine information statement.

Administration of MMR Vaccine

The MMR vaccine is given as an injection under the skin.

All adults who were born in or after 1957 should be given one dose of the vaccine unless they have documentation of vaccination with one or more doses of MMR or unless laboratory tests show they are immune.

Birth before 1957 is generally considered sufficient evidence of immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella, except for health care workers. Health care workers are vaccinated or have laboratory tests done to check for evidence of immunity.

Rubella infection during pregnancy can have severe consequences for the fetus such as miscarriage or severe birth defects. Therefore, all women who could become pregnant, regardless of their birth year, should be tested for immunity to rubella. If women have no evidence of immunity, those who are not pregnant should be vaccinated, and pregnant women should be vaccinated promptly after the pregnancy is completed.

Adults who are likely to be exposed to these infections should get a second dose of the vaccine. These people include those who

  • Health care workers born in 1957 or later who are not already immune to measles, mumps, and rubella

  • Go to college or other educational institutions after high school

  • Travel internationally

  • Have HIV infection (unless their immune system is severely weakened) and are not already immune to measles, mumps, and rubella

A second dose of the MMR vaccine should also be given to people who live in the same house as a person with a severely weakened immune system.

Pregnant women and people who are have had serious allergic reactions to gelatin or to certain antibiotics (particularly neomycin) should not be given this vaccine.

Certain other conditions may affect whether and when people are vaccinated (see also CDC: Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated With These Vaccines?).

If people have a temporary illness, doctors usually wait to give the vaccine until the illness resolves.

Side Effects of MMR Vaccine

Some people have mild side effects, such as a fever, a general feeling of illness (malaise), and a rash. Joints may become temporarily stiff and painful in adults, usually in women.

More Information

The following English-language resources may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.

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