Healthy Living

Is the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) Vaccine Safe for My Baby?

Possible side effects after MMR vaccination.

  Is MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine safe for my baby?

Key Takeaways

  • MMR vaccination, as with any other medicine, can have different side effects of varying levels of severity. 
  • In mild cases, side effects appear after 14 days, usually after the first shot of the vaccine. There might be slight fever (1 in 6 cases) and rash (1 in 20), followed by enlarged glands in the neck and cheeks (1 in 75). The probability of moderate side effects is pretty low, and severe side effects are quite rare.  
  • The harbingers of severe side effects are swelling of the face and throat, breathlessness, a nosebleed or any other bleeding, impaired consciousness, nausea, vomiting, and stomachache. Call your doctor immediately and take your child to a hospital's emergency room for immediate treatment. 

What are some considerations with regard to vaccination?

Never hide anything from your GP while he is deciding about the shots for your baby as your carelessness might have grave after-effects (side effects) for your baby. If your baby has diarrhea or is recovering from the flu, it would not be the best time for the immunization.

Prevention is better than cure--any vaccination offers protection against diseases and should be administered periodically for the best results. Immunity can be built up over a period of time with good and nutritious food, hygienic living conditions, and clean water to drink. But the welfare of a child against diseases can be taken care of by immunization or vaccination alone. Having your child get the MMR vaccine is very much needed as advised by your child's pediatrician. Due to sensitivity and exposure to illnesses of other children at a daycare center or school, a child is prone to falling ill frequently. Instead of giving frequent medicines, it is better to vaccinate the child against known diseases.

MMR vaccination, as with any other medicine, can have different side effects of different levels of severity, namely:

  • In mild cases, side effects appear after 14 days, usually after the first shot of the vaccine. There might be slight fever (1 in 6 cases) and rash (1 in 20), followed by enlarged glands in the neck and cheeks (1 in 75).
  • In moderate cases, there might be seizures (1 in 3,000) caused mainly by a high body temperature, stiffness of the joints occurring mostly in teens and young women, and bleeding as a result of the temporary low number of blood platelets, which are responsible for the formation of blood clots (1 in 30,000).
  • In severe cases, which are really uncommon (it’s even hard to work out the rate of their occurrence), there might be long-term seizures with permanent brain damage, severe allergic reactions, and deafness, and the person may even go into a coma.

BUT all cases have to be reviewed individually, in order to find out what the most probable reason for the complications after the vaccination is. To avoid complications, it's vital that you bring your baby in for the vaccination when he or she is absolutely healthy. The vaccine is administered by a registered doctor or under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner. It is usually given in the thigh muscle.

Rubella is an infection caused by the rubella virus; if contracted during pregnancy, it can cause severe harm to the unborn child. The number of rubella cases has fallen dramatically, thanks to vaccination programs, but the battle against this infection is not yet won.

IF you should notice any precursors of the side effects, call your GP immediately or go to a hospital's Emergency Room. Your health provider will file the case with the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), or you can do it yourself.

The harbingers of severe side effects are:

  • Swelling of the face and throat
  • Breathlessness
  • Nosebleed or any other bleeding (e.g., blood in feces)
  • Impaired consciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomachache

Whom should I speak to if I have any doubts about having my baby vaccinated against rubella?

If you are not sure whether you baby can be vaccinated against rubella, always speak to your child's pediatrician, as he or she keeps a medical record of your baby's milestones.

Only a qualified doctor can decide on the advisability of vaccination according to the general condition of your child. The pediatrician will also be able to advise you on MMR vaccination for your child if you and your child live in an area where risk of measles, mumps, or rubella is high, or if you are planning any international travel for your child. Your doctor will be able to explain to you all the possible complications of measles, mumps, and rubella, and the possible side effects of the shots, so you will be able to weigh all pros and cons, and make the most appropriate decision as regards immunization for your little one. Getting vaccinated against diseases is better than catching and suffering from the disease. 

What if I'm not sure whether my baby has already had rubella or has been vaccinated against rubella?

If your baby has already had rubella or has had timely vaccinations (normally two doses at 12-15 months with a pause of 28 days between the shots), there is no need for another vaccination until 4-6 years age.

If you can't remember whether your baby has already had rubella, your doctor might do a special test which will detect the illness' antibodies in the blood of your baby if he or she has had the illness, or will not find any in case your baby has never gotten ill with rubella or has been immunized against it.

Also, only a qualified doctor can decide on whether the timing of a planned vaccination is advisable with respect to the general condition of your child. 

Is the MMR vaccine safe for children?

Yes, the MMR vaccine is safe for children if it's given in accordance with the established schedule of immunization. Immediately after the birth of a child, the hospital will provide you a health chart that will have the timelines and guidelines for vaccinations. This should be followed religiously. Even the typhoid vaccine needs to be administered to the child.

The MMR vaccine was long been approved by CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention). It is much safer to get a dose of MMR vaccine than undergo the illnesses it protects against and their complications. The complications after immunization with the MMR vaccine are considered individually by a special team of the doctors working for the federal program (The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program), so you will not be left on your own in case of any trouble. The child till the age of 10 years needs to be seen by your family doctor to assessing the little one's general health, growth, and well-being. Health is wealth, so do take your child to see your doctor for regular general check-ups.

Prevention is always better than cure. So go ahead and get your child vaccinated. The future generation has to populated with healthy individuals who can take on the mantle of responsibility in seeing to it that the world becomes a better place to live in.