Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR) Vaccine
The United States is currently experiencing a measles outbreak, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging individuals to be vaccinated against measles if they are not immune. People at risk include adults born in 1957 or later who have not been vaccinated or have not had measles, college students, teachers, healthcare personnel and international travelers.
If you're unsure whether you are immune to measles, try to find your vaccination records or documentation of measles immunity. If you don't have documentation, the CDC recommends that you are vaccinated with measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Another option is to have a healthcare provider test your blood to determine whether you are immune, but there is no known harm in getting another dose of MMR vaccine if you may already be immune to measles (or mumps or rubella).
What are measles, mumps and rubella?
Measles, mumps and rubella are highly contagious viral diseases that have the potential to be very serious. They can be spread from infected people through the air.
The measles virus can cause fever, cough, runny nose, pink eye and rash. If the measles virus infects the lungs, it can cause pneumonia. Some people infected with the virus will suffer from brain inflammation, which can cause seizures, permanent brain damage or even death.
The mumps virus usually causes fever, headache and swollen glands. It can lead to deafness, meningitis, painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries and, in some cases, death.
Rubella, also known as German measles, causes rash, low-grade fever and arthritis. If a pregnant woman gets rubella, she could miscarry or give birth to a baby with serious birth defects.
What is the MMR vaccine?
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is usually given in childhood. This three-in-one vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella and is required for children to enter school in most states. Children need two doses of the vaccine, while adults who don't have evidence of immunity should get at least one dose.
Who should get the MMR vaccine?
Children should get the first dose of MMR vaccine at 12—15 months of age, and the second dose at 4—6 years of age. Children can get the second dose at any age, as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.
Adults born after 1957 who have not been vaccinated nor had the diseases, or don't know if they've been vaccinated or had the diseases, should get the MMR vaccine during an outbreak and/or if they are:
- Students at post-high school educational institutions
- International travelers
- Healthcare professionals
- Women of childbearing age who are not pregnant
- Caring for or around immunocompromised people
- Living with HIV without evidence of severe immunosuppression
Who should not get the MMR vaccine?
Anyone with the following characteristics should check with their healthcare provider about whether they should get the MMR vaccine:
- Has any severe, life-threatening allergies to MMR or any part of the vaccine
- Is pregnant, or thinks she might be pregnant
- Has a weakened immune system due to disease (such as cancer or HIV/AIDS) or medical treatments (such as radiation, immunotherapy, steroids or chemotherapy)
- Has a parent, brother or sister with a history of immune system problems
- Has ever had a condition that makes them bruise or bleed easily
- Has recently had a blood transfusion or received other blood products
- Has tuberculosis (TB)
- Has gotten any other vaccines in the past four weeks. Live vaccines given too close together might not work as well.
- Is not feeling well. A mild illness, such as a cold, is usually not a reason to postpone a vaccination. Someone who is moderately or severely ill should probably wait. Your healthcare provider can advise you.
Is the MMR vaccine safe for pregnant women?
Pregnant women should wait to get their MMR vaccine until after they have given birth. Women should avoid getting pregnant for four weeks after getting the MMR vaccine.
What are the side effects of the MMR vaccine?
- Fever, rash and seizures
- Swollen glands in the cheeks or neck
- Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints
- Temporary low blood platelet count
Severe problems (rare):
- Permanent brain damage
allergic reactions, with symptoms including:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pale skin
- Fast heartbeat
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease pain after the vaccination.
It's extremely rare for these vaccines to cause serious harm or death. If the person getting the vaccine has a serious reaction, seek immediate medical attention.
Where is the MMR vaccine available?
- Walgreens Healthcare Clinic locations* for patients age 7+
- Walgreens pharmacy locations* (ages vary by state)
If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.
Call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 800-232-4636 or visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines for more vaccine information.
Hamborsky J, Kroger A, Wolfe S, eds. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 13th ed. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation, 2015.
Measles (Rubeola): Questions About Measles. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/faqs.html. Accessed May 2019.
Patel M, Lee AD, Redd SB, et al. Increase in Measles Cases — United States, January 1-April 26, 2019. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6817e1.htm. Accessed May 2019.
Vaccine Information Statement: MMR (Measles, Mumps, & Rubella) Vaccine (What You Need to Know). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mmr.html. Accessed April 2016.
Vaccine-Preventable Diseases & Infections: Measles. Adult Vaccination, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. http://www.adultvaccination.org/vpd/measles. Accessed May 2019.
Vaccines and Preventable Diseases: Routine Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mmr/hcp/recommendations.html. Accessed May 2019.
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* Vaccines subject to availability. State-, age- and health-related restrictions may apply.