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Your Child's Immunizations: Measles, Mumps & Rubella Vaccine (MMR)

Article Translations: (Spanish)

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles).

Immunization Schedule

MMR vaccinations are given by injection in two doses:

  1. at age 12–15 months
  2. at age 4–6 years

Children traveling outside the United States can get the vaccine as early as 6 months of age. These children should still get the recommended routine doses at 12–15 months and 4–6 years of age (if they are staying in an area where disease risk is high, they should get the first dose at 12 months and the second at least 4 weeks later).

There have been recent outbreaks of mumps in the U.S. An outbreak is when a disease happens in greater numbers than one would expect in a certain area. If you have questions about vaccinating your family during an outbreak, ask your health care provider or contact your state or local health department.

Why the Vaccine Is Recommended

Measles, mumps, and rubella are infections that can lead to significant illness. More than 95% of children receiving MMR will be protected from the three diseases throughout their lives.

Possible Risks

Serious problems such as allergic reactions are rare. Potential mild to moderate reactions include rash, fever, swollen cheeks, febrile seizures, and mild joint pain.

When to Delay or Avoid Immunization

The MMR vaccine is not recommended if your child:

  • had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of MMR vaccine, or components of the vaccine. which include gelatin and the antibiotic neomycin
  • has a disorder that affects the immune system (such as cancer)
  • is taking steroids or other medicine that weakens the immune system
  • is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy

Talk to your doctor about whether the vaccine is a good idea if your child:

  • is currently sick. Generally, simple colds and other minor illness should not stop your child from getting a vaccine.
  • has received any other vaccines in the past month because some can interfere with how well the MMR vaccine will work
  • has ever had a low platelet count

Your doctor may decide that the benefits of vaccinating your child outweigh the potential risks.

Pregnant women should not receive the MMR vaccine until after childbirth.

Caring for Your Child After Immunization

If your child develops a rash without other symptoms, no treatment is needed. The rash should go away in several days. Check with your doctor to see if you can give either acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain or fever and to find out the appropriate dose.

When to Call the Doctor

  • Call if you aren't sure if the vaccine should be postponed or avoided.
  • Call if there are problems after the immunization.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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