Mumps is a disease that used to be very common in the United States. In fact, before the mumps vaccine, almost everyone in the United States got mumps during childhood. But thanks to the vaccine, the number of mumps cases in Americans has dropped by over 99%.
There are 2 vaccines that can prevent mumps:
- The MMR vaccine protects children and adults from mumps, measles, and rubella
- The MMRV vaccine protects children from mumps, measles, rubella, and chickenpox
- Why is the mumps vaccine important?
Mumps is a contagious disease — it spreads easily from person to person. And it can lead to serious complications, like hearing loss.
Although mumps is rare, infections can still happen in places where people are in close contact with each other — like schools, colleges, and camps.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent mumps. When enough people in a community get vaccinated for mumps, the entire community is less likely to get the disease. So when you and your family get vaccinated, you help keep yourselves and your community healthy.
- What is mumps?
Mumps is a disease caused by a virus. Symptoms of mumps include:
- Puffy cheeks and swollen jaw
- Muscle aches
- Feeling tired
- Not feeling hungry
Most people with mumps get better in a few weeks. But sometimes, it can cause serious complications, like:
- Inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord
- Hearing loss
- Inflammation of the testicles in males who have reached puberty
Mumps spreads easily through the saliva (spit) of an infected person. It can spread when someone with mumps:
- Coughs, sneezes, or talks
- Shares cups or eating utensils (like a spoon) with other people
- Touches an object or surface that others might touch without washing their hands
- Who needs to get the mumps vaccine?
All children need to get the mumps vaccine — and some adults may need it, too.
Children ages 1 through 6 years need to get the mumps vaccine as part of their routine vaccine schedule.
Children need 2 doses of the vaccine at the following ages:
- 12 through 15 months for the first dose
- 4 through 6 years for the second dose (or sooner as long as it’s 28 days after the first dose)
Children ages 1 through 12 years can get the MMRV vaccine, which is a combination vaccine that also protects against measles, rubella, and chickenpox. Your child’s doctor can recommend the vaccine that’s right for your child.
Adults may need to get the mumps vaccine if they didn’t get it as a child. In general, everyone age 18 and older born after 1956 who has not had mumps needs at least 1 dose of the mumps vaccine. Healthcare professionals who have not had mumps need 2 doses of the mumps vaccine.
Talk with your doctor about how to protect your family from mumps.
- Who should not get the mumps vaccine?
You should not get the mumps vaccine if you:
- Have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a dose of the mumps vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine (like neomycin, an antibiotic sometimes used in vaccines)
- Are pregnant
Be sure to tell your doctor before getting vaccinated if you:
- Have HIV/AIDS
- Have tuberculosis
- Have cancer
- Are taking medicines that can affect your immune system
- Have ever had a low platelet count (a blood disorder)
- Have had another vaccine in the past month
- Have recently had a blood transfusion or were given other blood products, like plasma
If you’re sick, you may need to wait until you’re feeling better to get the mumps vaccine.
- What are the side effects of the mumps vaccine?
Side effects are usually mild and go away in a few days. They may include:
- A mild rash
- Swollen glands in the cheeks or neck
Less common side effects of the mumps vaccine include:
- Pain or stiffness in the joints, usually in women (up to 1 person out of 4)
- Seizures (sudden, unusual movements or behavior) from having a high fever (about 1 out of every 3,000 doses)
- Temporary (short-term) low platelet count (about 1 out of every 30,000 doses)
Like any medicine, there's a very small chance that the mumps vaccine could cause a serious reaction. Keep in mind that getting the mumps vaccine is much safer than getting mumps. Learn more about vaccine side effects.
- Where can I get more information about the mumps vaccine?
Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) have detailed information about recommended vaccines. Read the VISs for vaccines that protect against mumps:
- MMR vaccine — protects against mumps, measles, and rubella
- MMRV vaccine — protects against mumps, measles, rubella, and chickenpox (for children)