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What is the mumps vaccine?

The mumps vaccine protects against mumps, a contagious disease caused by the mumps virus. The mumps vaccine is given as the combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine

Who should get the MMR vaccine?

  • The MMR vaccine is given to children as a series of two doses. The first dose is given at 12 months, and the second dose is given at 4-6 years of age. Children 4 - 12 years of age who also need protection against chickenpox (varicella) can get their second dose as the combined Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella (MMRV) vaccine.
  • Older children and teens who have not been immunized should also get two doses of the MMR vaccine.
  • One dose of mumps-containing vaccine is recommended for adults born in 1970 or later who have not had mumps disease (for those who have had mumps disease, prior clinical diagnosis of acute mumps and laboratory confirmation of the same is required). However, students of post-secondary educational settings and travellers to outside of North America need two doses of mumps-containing vaccine.
  • Health care workers, who do not have evidence of immunity to mumps, need one dose of mumps-containing vaccine if born between January 1, 1957 and December 31, 1969 and two doses if born in 1970 or later. 
  • Individuals born before 1970 (1957 for health care workers) are generally assumed to have acquired immunity to mumps from natural infection. Therefore the MMR vaccine is not routinely recommended for these individuals.

What are the benefits of the MMR vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is the best way to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella, which are serious and sometimes fatal diseases. When you or your child get vaccinated, you help protect others as well.

What are the side effects?

Vaccines are very safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get measles, mumps, or rubella.

Many people have no side effects from the vaccine. For those that do, common side effects may include soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. A mild fever, a rash that looks like measles and swelling of glands in the cheeks or neck can occur about 7 to 12 days after getting the vaccine. Temporary joint pain may occur in teenage and adult women.

Rarely, more serious reactions can include seizures caused by fever (about 1 child in 3,000), a temporary drop in the blood cells that help prevent bleeding (about 1 person in 30,000), and encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain (about 1 person in 1 million). The possibility of getting encephalitis from measles is about 1 in 1,000 which is much higher than from the vaccine.

It is important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because there is a very rare possibility, between one in 100,000 and one in a million, of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue or lips. Should this reaction occur, your health care provider is prepared to treat it. Emergency treatment includes administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) and transfer by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. If symptoms develop after you leave the clinic, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

It is important to always report serious or unexpected reactions to your health care provider.


Find information in different languages in the HealthLinkBC File: Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Vaccine

Where can I learn more?

About mumps

  • Mumps is a disease caused by the mumps virus.
  • Mumps was a common childhood disease before immunization.
  • Mumps is spread by coughing, sneezing, close face-to-face contact, or sharing items such as eating utensils or cups.
  • Mumps causes fever, headaches, and swelling of the salivary glands and cheeks.
  • More serious complications include encephalitis (swelling of the brain).
  • Mumps can also cause temporary deafness. Permanent deafness occurs in less than 1 in 20,000 people with mumps.
  • About 1 in 4 adult men and teenage boys with mumps have painful swelling of the testicles, and 1 in 20 women and teenage girls have swelling of the ovaries. Both of these conditions are temporary and rarely result in permanent damage or sterility.
  • About 1 in 20 people with mumps get mumps meningitis, an infection of the lining of the brain.
Date last reviewed: 
Monday, Apr 06, 2020