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Vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)

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The vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella is known as the MMR vaccine.


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About the diseases

Measles

is the most serious childhood disease and is extremely contagious. More than 99 per cent of those who grew up before vaccination began caught measles. The disease begins with cold-like symptoms and a high fever, followed by a rash. Measles often results in complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis and middle ear inflammation. Serious complications such as inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), permanent brain damage and death can occur. Worldwide, about 120,000 people die of measles every year, most of them children. Outbreaks of potentially fatal measles also occur among unvaccinated people in Europe.

Mumps

is a viral infection that causes a fever and swelling of the salivary glands in front of the ear. The most common complication is mumps meningitis, which usually passes without permanent damage. A more serious complication is permanent deafness. If a boy catches mumps after puberty the virus can attack the testicles and lead to reduced fertility, but probably not sterility.

Rubella

(German measles) is a mild disease that causes fever and a rash in both adults and children. If a pregnant woman contracts rubella it may seriously harm the unborn baby. The risk of deformity is over 80 per cent risk if the mother catches rubella in early pregnancy.

The most common source of infection is through contact with children who have the disease. In some outbreaks unvaccinated men have been the source of infection. It is therefore important that all children are vaccinated.  

About the MMR vaccine

The MMR vaccine is a combination vaccine made up of live, weakened measles, mumps and rubella viruses. After the first MMR dose, which is normally given at 15 months of age, over 90 per cent of those vaccinated are protected for many years, possibly for life.

A new dose is given at 12 years of age to ensure protection for the remaining 10 per cent and to ensure long-term protection. It is not harmful to vaccinate a person who has already had one or more of the diseases.

Since the MMR vaccine is a live, weakened vaccine, inform the public health nurse before vaccination if the child has an immunodeficiency disorder or is taking medication. 

Side effects

Brief tenderness, redness and swelling at the injection site may occur. One to two weeks after vaccination, fewer than 1 in 20 children will display mild symptoms of the diseases they have been vaccinated against. The most common symptoms are fever and rash. Infection with a vaccine virus is not contagious. The complications following these diseases rarely or never occur after vaccination.

In 1997, a hypothesis alleged that the MMR vaccine could be a cause of autism. A number of major studies have since been performed, which all strongly indicate that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism or any other form of brain damage.

Animation

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health created an animated video which was shown in health clinics - 'Are you protected against measles?' (No sound)