The MMR vaccine is a combination vaccine to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles). Many children growing up in the U.S. are immunized as infants and toddlers, but childhood immunizations don't guarantee lifetime protection. Not all adults were immunized as children, many adults move to the U.S. from countries without immunization programs, and global travel makes transmission of infectious diseases a real risk.
As a general rule, adults born before 1957 are considered immune to measles and mumps.But for many adults born in 1957 or afterward, the CDC advises that they have the MMR vaccine.
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Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests, at no cost to you. Learn more.
The three diseases covered by the MMR vaccine -- measles, mumps, and rubella -- are highly contagious and spread through the air from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or simply breathing.
Measles. Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by the measles virus, which attacks the throat and lungs. Though largely eradicated in the U.S. due to vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are still an estimated 10 million cases of measles worldwide, resulting in nearly 200,000 deaths. While measles outbreaks often happen in countries without strong childhood immunization programs, recent outbreaks have also appeared in Europe, South Africa, and the Philippines.
Mumps. Mumps is a contagious disease caused by the mumps virus, which can lead to deafness, infection of the brain and spinal cord covering, and other serious problems. While largely eradicated thanks to vaccines, mumps outbreaks do still occur in the U.S.
Rubella (German measles). Like measles and mumps, this viral disease can cause a fever and rash, but rubella is especially dangerous for pregnant women, since it can lead to serious birth defects, including heart defects, deafness, liver and spleen damage, and mental retardation.If a woman is infected with rubella early in pregnancy, there's at least a 20% chance of damage to her baby.