Vaccines are administered to prevent the occurrence of a disease or infection. But some powerful vaccines like the MMR, have the possibility of side effects. To learn what effects could occur, with the MMR vaccine, read on.
Three dangerous diseases of childhood are measles, mumps and rubella. If a child contracts any one of the three, it is a difficult and painful time for both parents and patient. Prior to the 1970s, measles in childhood was a foregone conclusion. Even adults could contract it, with fatal results. But with the creation of the MMR vaccine, the threat of such diseases has diminished to a great extent. The percentage of measles in people below 30, is 1% of the population in countries where childhood vaccination takes place. Due to their chemical contents and the age of the recipients, the issue of whether to administer such vaccines is always debated. To understand the pros and cons debate of vaccinations, learn more about the MMR vaccine and its possible side effects in this article.
This vaccine is designed to prevent the occurrence of measles, mumps and rubella. It is a combination of three different vaccines, one of rubella, measles and mumps respectively, to provide a “3-in-1” shot. The biological make-up of the vaccine consists of attenuated measles, mumps and rubella viruses grown in a chick embryo cell. Attenuated viruses are live germs or infectious agents, that do not kill the virus in the body but alter it to become harmless. A salt solution is used as the growth medium for the viruses. Other components include sucrose, glutamate, phosphate, neomycin, sorbitol, hydrolyzed gelatin stabilizer and recombinant human albumin.
The vaccine is administered as an injection. The first dose is given when the child is one years old. The second dose is given at the school going age, i.e. 4-5 years old. At first, only one dose of the vaccine was used. But in 1989, it was recommended to administer 2 doses, so that any chance of the virus surviving the first dose would be diminished. Though children are the main recipients of such a vaccine, adults who have not received the vaccine should take it.
Side effects of this vaccine occur in very few individuals. Nearly 80% of children injected with this vaccine show no reaction. If there are any side effects, they are mild in comparison to the actual measles, mumps or rubella symptoms. Some possible side effects of MMR vaccine are:
- Mild to high Fever
- Mild measles-like rash
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of the neck or cheek glands
- Seizures or fits (febrile convulsions)
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Minor temporary swelling in joints
- Area of injection remains red or swollen
- Allergic reaction
In very rare cases, the following side effects in children have been noticed:
- Lowered level of consciousness
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulty in breathing
- Swelling inside the mouth
- Lowered blood platelet count leading to bleeding problems
The above severe MMR vaccine side effects affect a very small percentage of the infected population, for e.g. 1 child in 30,000 may experience low blood platelet count.
Who Should Take MMR Vaccine?
Rather than completely avoiding the vaccine and leaving your child open to the chance of contracting mumps, measles or rubella, a better method is to make sure your child falls under the category of those who can take the virus. Below are some groups who should not take the vaccine:
- Children allergic to gelatin
- Children allergic to neomycin
- If a child suffers from cancer or blood disorders
- If he/she has recently had a blood transfusion
- Adults and children suffering from HIV, AIDS or leukemia, in short any immunity system diseases
- If the child or adult is sick at the time of injection
- Pregnant women
- If a live vaccine was administered 4 weeks prior to the MMR vaccination date
- Women trying to conceive in the next 3 months
The main and most apparent benefit of the MMR vaccine is the massive reduction in the number of people infected with measles, mumps and rubella. The percentage rates for prevention against the above 3 disease, are measles – 99% prevention, mumps – 95% and rubella -98%. The MMR vaccine also reduces the extent and harm of people, who get infected.
The benefits of taking the vaccine far outweigh the possible MMR vaccine side effects. Measles, mumps and rubella are highly contagious and extremely dangerous. They can cause long-term harm to an individual, like brain damage, meningitis and even death. In the U.S.A., such diseases are nearly eradicated and their occurrence is very rare, thanks to the effectiveness of the MMR vaccine.