First the basics.
MMR (also MPR vaccine from Latin morbilli (measles), parotitis (mumps) and rubella) is the abbreviation for mumps, measles, rubella. The MMR vaccine is administered via an injection. The vaccine consists of three attenuated viruses of the mentioned three diseases. The MMR1 vaccine is administered at around the age of nine months. The second dose (MMR2) is given at the age of 15-18 months. The vaccine in its combined form exists since 1971.
Although MMR is a childhood vaccine, it is also recommended to adults with the possibility of HIV.
Q: What are measles, mumps and rubella?
A: These are highly contagious diseases that spread through contact with an infected person.
Q: Are they new diseases?
A: Measles, mumps and rubella are ancient diseases. However, recently even the developed countries have become wary of these diseases.
Q: How much does the MMR vaccine cost?
A: Although the vaccine is sold by various drug companies like Tresivac, Trimovac, Merupa, etc for a small amount of about Rs 70-75, the Government of India provides the MMR1 and MMR2 vaccines free of cost.
Q: Is the MMR vaccine safe for my children? Do they cause any side effect?
A: MMR vaccine is being used by 150 nations currently and is considered to be highly safe and effective. The vaccine being used in India currently is produced in India and finds its use in the neighbouring countries of Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. Side effects, if any, are extremely rare. Side effects of MMR vaccine include fever, mild rash and swelling of glands in the cheeks or neck. The mild side effects are less frequent after the second dose and occur within 10-15 days of the shot.
Q: What if I do not get my child MMR vaccinated?
A: The Indian government has a protocol to deal with the side effects of the vaccine. There is no reason to not get your child vaccinated.
Q: Who should not be vaccinated?
A: Although MMR is an extremely effective and highly safe vaccine, people with following conditions should avoid being vaccinated.
• High fever or any other serious disease (eg: unconscious, convulsions, etc).
• Hospitalized children
• History of a severe allergic reaction to measles/rubella vaccine in the past.
• Known immune-compromised child on steroid therapy or on immunosuppressant drugs.
Q: My child has already taken the MMR dose, should he be vaccinated again in the current campaign?
A: There is no harm in taking the vaccine again. Although your child’s pediatrician may have given the dose, giving a second dose to your child is never a problem.
Q: Why are the three vaccines injected together? Why don’t they give vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella separately? Isn’t that more effective?
A: The combined vaccine was introduced to reduce the pain of three separate injections at the same time. Also to save the time of three different injections administered at different times.
Q: Does MMR have anything to do with autism?
A: Many people, organizations and companies have claimed that the MMR vaccine leads to autism. Most of these claims support the use of competing products. These claims have not yet been proven. In Japan, the MMR vaccination has been discontinued, the vaccines are given as two doses. One a combination vaccine for Measles and Rubella MR and the other Mumps vaccine being given as a single dose. Rates of autism diagnosis have continued to increase, showing no correlation with the change.
Now that you know the truth about MMR vaccines, go get your child vaccinated at the earliest.