About the vaccine

The mumps vaccine is the best way to prevent mumps.  The mumps vaccine is combined with the measles and rubella vaccine (MMR vaccine), so a person can receive protection from several diseases with one shot.

Mumps vaccine effectiveness has been estimated at 62% to 91% for one dose and 76% to 95% for two doses. 

Who should get the MMR vaccine? 

The MMR vaccine is provided free as part of your child’s routine immunizations. The MMR vaccine is given to children as a series of 2 doses. The first dose is given at 12 months of age. As of January 1, 2012, the second dose of the vaccine was moved from 18 months of age to 4 to 6 years of age.  For children who also need protection against chickenpox (varicella), the 2nd dose of vaccine can be given as the combined measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccine. 

The MMR vaccine is also provided free to the following people:

  • Infants aged 6 to 11 months who will be travelling to countries where there is measles, mumps or rubella disease, or that are known to have been in contact with someone with measles
  • Women of child-bearing age who are not immune to rubella
  • Older children and adults who have not been immunized or do not have evidence of immunity to measles, mumps and rubella.

It is recommended that people born in 1970 or later get 2 doses of the MMR vaccine. This is especially important for travelers. People born before 1970 are generally assumed to have acquired immunity to measles or mumps from natural infection. However, there may be susceptible individuals in this age group, and those without a history of measles or mumps vaccine or disease should talk to their health care provider about getting vaccinated. 

The MMR vaccine is safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get measles, mumps or rubella. 

Vaccines are available from public health units, doctors' offices and pharmacies (for people 5 years of age and older). Services vary across BC.

For more information about the vaccine, including the benefits, possible reactions after the vaccine and who should not get the vaccine, see the HealthLinkBC files:

About the disease

Mumps is an acute viral illness caused by the mumps virus and is most often a childhood disease but you can also get mumps as an adult

  • Mumps usually causes fever, aches and pains, headaches, and swelling of the salivary glands and cheeks
  • Mumps is spread by coughing, sneezing, kissing, or getting an infected person's saliva into your mouth
  • Complications are rare but can include inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), testicles or ovaries and deafness
  • Death related to mumps infection happens in about 1 out of every 10,000 cases

There is less mumps disease in BC because of routine childhood vaccination programs

For more information on this disease, see the mumps (14c) HealthLink BC File.

Photo courtesy of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. More vaccine preventable disease images