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MMR Vaccine for Children

MMR Vaccine for Children

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MMR vaccine provides children with protection against three serious diseases. Although measles, mumps and rubella can infect adults they are generally considered to be childhood illnesses. All of these are viral infections. The MMR vaccine is given to children 12- 18 months of age and another at 4-5 years. This should provide a child with immunity from measles, mumps and rubella through adulthood.

The vaccine is required in most of the United States before a child is allowed to enter a public school and without the vaccine it is believed that measles, mumps or rubella could become epidemics. The diseases themselves without complication don’t sound so terribly serious but unfortunately complications are common and can result in devastating consequences for a child.

MMR Vaccine… Measles

The first M in MMR stands for measles. It is a very contagious disease starting with symptoms like the common cold with runny nose, fever and cough. This is followed by a red rash covering the child’s body. Though the disease runs its course in a few weeks it can settle in the lungs causing pneumonia. Encephalitis or inflammation of the brain may occur as a result of having measles and this can cause seizures, permanent brain damage and even death in a child.

MMR Vaccine… Mumps

The second M in MMR stands for mumps. Mumps is characterized by swelling in the neck and cheeks. This is due to swollen parotid or salivary glands. It can be quite painful causing difficulty with chewing and swallowing. Before the MMR vaccine was available, mumps was the most prevalent cause of meningitis in the United States.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, or lining of the brain and spinal cord. This disease can also result in death. Mumps was also a common cause of deafness. If a male at the age of puberty through adulthood were to get the mumps it would very likely leave him irreversibly infertile.

MMR Vaccine… Rubella

Rubella which is also known as German measles is the R in MMR. Children with rubella infection have a rash on their face, swelling in the glands behind their ears and sometimes there are swollen joints and a low-grade fever. Children with rubella generally recover without any ill effects remaining but if the infected child should spread the virus to a woman in her first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy the effects on her unborn child can be terribly destructive. Chances are very high that the infant will be born with one or more tragic birth defects such as a heart defect, mental retardation, blindness or deafness.

Since the measles, mumps and rubella viruses are so easily spread, yet so simply preventable with the MMR vaccine, these illnesses and their tragic effects fortunately no longer have to occur.

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