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Mumps vaccine

Date last reviewed: 
Monday, Mar 20, 2023


What is the mumps vaccine?

The mumps vaccine protects against mumps, a contagious disease caused by the mumps virus. In most people, mumps is mild. But in rare cases, the virus may cause complications. The mumps vaccine is given as the combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. 

Who should get the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine?

  • The MMR vaccine is given to children as a series of 2 doses. The first dose is given at 12 months, and the second dose is given at 4 - 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.
  • Older children and teens who have not been immunized or do not have evidence of immunity to measles, mumps and rubella should also get two doses of the MMR vaccine.
  • It is recommended that people born in 1970 or later (1957 for health care workers) get 2 doses of the vaccine. This is especially important for travellers.
  • People born before 1970 (1957 for health care workers) are generally assumed to have acquired immunity to measles from natural infection. Therefore the MMR vaccine is not routinely recommended for these people.

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 immunized, 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. Fever, headache, muscle soreness, nausea and 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, mor 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 an extremely rare possibility of anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction. This may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue, or lips. The chance of true anaphylaxis is about 1 in 1 million vaccine doses. 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. Learn more about anaphylaxis on our vaccine side effects page.

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

Who should not get the MMR vaccine?

Speak with your health care provider if you or your child:
  • Have had a life-threatening reaction to a previous dose of measles, mumps, or rubella vaccine, or any component of the vaccine including gelatin or neomycin.
  • Have an immune system weakened by disease or medical treatment.
  • Have had a drop in platelets, the blood cells that help prevent bleeding, after getting a previous dose of MMR vaccine without another cause being identified.
  • Have had a blood transfusion or received other blood products within the past 12 months.
  • Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant? Women should avoid becoming pregnant for 1 month after getting the MMR vaccine.
There is no need to delay getting immunized because of a cold or other mild illness. However, if you have concerns speak with your health care provider.


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.
  • About 1 in 20 people with mumps get mumps meningitis, an infection of the lining of the brain.


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