Mumps is a contagious disease. The mumps vaccine can protect against mumps and other diseases, such as measles and rubella.

This article looks at how effective and safe the mumps vaccine is, who should get the vaccine, possible side effects, and costs.

MMR vaccineShare on Pinterest
Justin Sullivan/Getty

The mumps vaccine protects people against getting mumps, which is a contagious viral disease.

Mumps can cause:

In some cases, mumps can cause serious complications, including severe inflammation and deafness.

There are currently two mumps vaccines available in the United States, which also protect against two to three other diseases:

  • MMR vaccine: This jab protects against mumps, measles, and rubella. Suitable for those 12 months of age and older.
  • MMRV vaccine: This shot protects against mumps, measles, rubella, and varicella, which causes chickenpox. The MMRV vaccine is only suitable for children aged 12 months to 12 years.

The mumps vaccine is a lot safer than getting mumps.

The mumps vaccine may cause mild, temporary side effects. In rare cases, people may experience more severe side effects, such as an allergic reaction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that the MMR vaccine effectively protects against mumps and any disease complications.

One MMR vaccine is 78% effective in protecting against mumps. Two vaccinations are 88% effective in protecting against mumps.

Since mumps vaccination programs began in the United States in 1967, there has been a 99% decrease in mumps in the U.S.

According to the Immunization Action Coalition, adults and children have lifelong immunity to mumps after receiving the recommended number of MMR injections for their age and situation and do not require any booster vaccinations.

However, the CDC states that immunity to mumps from the MMR vaccine may decrease over time. If people are at risk due to a mumps outbreak, they may need a further vaccination.

The CDC recommends that the following people should get a mumps vaccine:

Children

All children will need two MMR vaccinations. Children can receive the first injection between 12-15 months, the second between 4-6 years, or 28 days after the first one.

Children can also get the MMRV vaccine, which protects against mumps, measles, rubella, and chickenpox. The MMRV vaccine is only suitable for children between the ages of 12 months and 12 years old.

Students at post-secondary educational institutions

Students at post-secondary educational institutions will need a mumps vaccine if they do not have evidence of previous vaccination or immunity. This is known as presumptive evidence of immunity and includes:

  • written documentation of acceptable vaccination
  • laboratory evidence of a previous infection or blood tests showing immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella
  • being born before 1957

Without acceptable evidence of immunity, students will need two MMR vaccinations, with at least 28 days between them.

Adults

Adults without presumptive evidence of immunity will need at least one MMR vaccination. Some adults may need two injections if they are at higher risk of contracting mumps, such as healthcare workers or international travelers.

People getting two doses of the MMR vaccine will have to leave at least 28 days between shots.

Pregnant people

If people plan to become pregnant and have no presumptive evidence of immunity, they will need at least one dose of the MMR vaccine before becoming pregnant.

People will also need to wait 1 month after getting the final MMR injection before becoming pregnant.

Anyone who is pregnant, or suspects they may be pregnant, should not get the MMR vaccine during pregnancy. People will need to wait until they are no longer pregnant before getting the MMR vaccine.

If people are breastfeeding, it is safe to receive the MMR vaccine and will cause no harm to the baby through breast milk.

International travelers

According to the CDC, anyone over the age of 6 months who is undertaking international travel will need to have a vaccination against mumps before traveling. This includes:

  • Infants between 6-11 months will need one dose of the MMR vaccine.
  • Infants under 12 months of age who have already had one dose of the MMR vaccine will need two additional injections between 12-15 months, at least 28 days apart.
  • Children aged 12 months or older will need two MMR vaccinations, 28 days apart.
  • Any teenagers or adults with no presumptive evidence of immunity will need two doses of the MMR vaccine, 28 days apart.

Healthcare workers

Healthcare workers will need presumptive evidence of immunity. If people do not have acceptable evidence, they will need two MMR vaccinations, at least 28 days apart.

The current MMR vaccine recommendations for schools and educational institutions in all U.S. states are:

  • one dose for preschool children aged 12 months or older
  • two doses for children in kindergarten through to grade 12, as well as students in college and post-secondary educational institutions

The CDC recommends that children should get the mumps vaccine from the age of 12 months.

Older children, teenagers, or adults should get the mumps vaccine if they have not had previous vaccination.

People may also need an additional MMR vaccination before embarking on any international travel or entering healthcare work if they have no previous evidence of immunity.

The MMR vaccine may not be suitable for some people. People should consult their doctor about mumps vaccination if they:

  • have severe, life threatening allergies
  • are pregnant, or think they could be pregnant
  • have a weakened immune system
  • have a history of immune system issues within their immediate family
  • have a condition that causes easy bruising or bleeding
  • have had a recent blood transfusion or blood products
  • have tuberculosis
  • have received any other vaccines within the past 4 weeks
  • are feeling moderately or severely unwell

People do not need a mumps vaccine if they:

  • were born before 1957
  • have written documentation of previous mumps vaccination, including at least one dose for preschool children and adults at low risk, and two doses for school-aged children and adults at high risk
  • laboratory evidence of immunity to mumps

People may experience mild side effects from mumps vaccination, usually lasting no longer than a few days.

Side effects can include:

  • mild rash
  • fever
  • swollen glands in the neck or cheeks

Less common side effects may include:

  • painful or stiff joints, which may affect 1 in 4 people, more often females
  • seizures, approximately 1 in 3,000 doses
  • temporary low platelet count in the blood occurs in around 1 in 30,000 doses

In rare cases, a mumps vaccine may cause a severe allergic reaction.

People can talk to a doctor about getting a mumps vaccine.

Most health insurance providers will cover the cost of a mumps vaccine. People may need to first check with their health insurance provider before seeing their doctor.

If a person’s health insurance does not cover the vaccine, or they do not have health insurance, it might be possible to get help for a child to receive the vaccine.

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides vaccines for children whose families or guardians cannot pay for vaccines.

People may also be able to find affordable healthcare options at HealthCare.gov.

The mumps vaccine can protect against mumps, which is a contagious disease. There are currently two options in the U.S. for mumps vaccines:

  • MMR: for children and adults
  • MMRV: for children up to the age of 12 years only

People will need one to two vaccines to achieve immunity against mump. However, this will usually provide lifelong protection.