child being vaccinated

National Immunization Awareness Month: What’s the MMR Vaccine?

August 22, 2023

August is National Immunization Month and it’s a great time to think about what immunizations are recommended for you and your children. If you are a parent, you may already be considering your child’s immunization status as they return to the classroom. Many children fell behind on routine childhood immunizations (check vaccine schedules here) during the COVID-19 pandemic but catching your child up on those vaccines can be a simple process. For parents and families who are seeking these resources, routine childhood and adult immunizations help protect you, your family, and your community.

Did you know that some vaccines offer protection from multiple illnesses? One of the most important vaccines that children routinely receive is the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. It helps prevent three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles), which are contagious and can be very serious.

Children should get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination if they didn’t receive their vaccines as children.

Let’s look at the diseases that the MMR vaccine prevents:

  • Measles: According to the World Health Organization, measles is a highly contagious, serious viral disease. It causes high fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes, white spots in the mouth, and a rash. It can lead to short- and long-term complications and even death. Before a vaccine was developed and widely used in the early 1960s, measles killed millions of people every year. Vaccinating your child helps protect them from this dangerous disease.
  • Mumps: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mumps is a contagious disease that is caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw.
  • Rubella: According to the CDC, rubella is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It usually causes mild illness including low-grade fever, sore throat, and a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Rubella can cause a miscarriage or serious birth defects in a developing baby if a woman is infected while she is pregnant.

If you are interested in scheduling vaccinations for you or your child, call your doctor, pharmacy or El Paso County Public Health at 719-578-3199, option 5. Remember that some vaccines (including MMR) require multiple doses to be most effective, and some, like the flu vaccine, must be administered every year to provide protection. Many vaccines can be administered at the same appointment, saving you time.