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Frequently Asked Questions
Your child should not receive a booster vaccine if he or she had a life threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.
Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella are serious diseases caused by viruses spread from person to person through the air or by skin to skin contact.
Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella can cause minor symptoms such as fever, tiredness, headache, sore throat, cough, swollen glands, runny nose, eye irritation, skin rash, muscle aches, and joint pain.
More serious symptoms of measles or mumps include pneumonia, hearing loss, painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries, and rarely permanent brain damage or death.
Becoming infected with rubella virus (also called German Measles) during pregnancy can result in a miscarriage or serious birth defects.
Varicella (chickenpox) can also cause a breakout of fluid-filled blisters on the skin. Chickenpox is usually mild, but it can lead to severe skin infection, breathing problems, brain damage, or death. A person who has had chickenpox can develop herpes zoster (also called shingles) later in life, which causes severe nerve pain, and hearing or vision problems, which may last for months or years.
The measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (MMRV) vaccine is used to help prevent these diseases in children. This vaccine causes your body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.
MMRV vaccine is for use in children between the ages of 12 months and 12 years old.
Like any vaccine, the MMRV vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.
Your child should not receive this vaccine if he or she:
- is allergic to gelatin; or
- has had a severe allergic reaction to neomycin.
Your child should also not receive this vaccine if he or she has:
- a cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma;
- a bone marrow or blood cell disorder;
- untreated tuberculosis;
- a history of severe allergic reaction to eggs; or
- severe immune suppression caused by disease (such as cancer, HIV, or AIDS), or by receiving medicines such as certain steroids, chemotherapy or radiation.
Your child can still receive a vaccine if he or she has a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until the child gets better before receiving this vaccine.
If your child has any of these other conditions, this vaccine may need to be postponed or not given at all:
- active tuberculosis infection;
- a history of brain injury or seizures;
- thrombocytopenia purpura (easy bruising or bleeding); or
- if you have received an immune globulin or a blood or plasma transfusion within the past 3 months.
Although MMRV vaccine is normally given only to children, a pregnant women should not receive this vaccine. Chickenpox can cause birth defects, low birth weight, or a serious infection in the newborn, and this vaccine exposes you to a small amount of this virus. Any female receiving MMRV vaccine should not get pregnant for 3 months after getting the vaccine.
It may not be safe to breastfeed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.
This vaccine is given as an injection under the skin. You will receive this injection in a doctor's office or clinic setting.
MMRV vaccine is usually given only once when the child is 12 to 15 month old. A booster dose may be given between 4 and 6 years of age.
If your child has received any other measles vaccine, at least 1 month should pass between that vaccine and the MMRV vaccine.
If your child has received any other varicella vaccine, at least 3 months should pass between that vaccine and the MMRV vaccine.
Your child's booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by your local health department.
This vaccine can cause false results on a skin test for tuberculosis for up to 6 weeks. Tell any doctor who treats you if you have received an MMRV vaccine within the past 4 to 6 weeks.
Since this vaccine is usually given only once, you are not likely to miss a dose. Contact your doctor if you do not receive all recommended doses.
An overdose of this vaccine is unlikely to occur.
For 6 weeks after receiving MMRV vaccine:
- Do not give your child salicylates such as aspirin or similar medicines such as Alka-Seltzer, Doan's Pills, Excedrin, Ecotrin, Nuprin, Dolobid, Tricosal, and others. A serious condition called Reye's Syndrome has been reported in patients with chickenpox who take aspirin or salicylates.
- Your child should avoid coming into contact with anyone who could easily get infected with chickenpox. This may include newborn babies, pregnant women, and anyone with a weak immune system. MMRV vaccine may not cause your child to have symptoms of chickenpox. However, there is a chance that varicella virus could be passed from a recently vaccinated child to anyone who may be susceptible to chickenpox.
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash with blistering and peeling).
Your child should not receive a booster vaccine if he or she had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.
Keep track of any and all side effects your child has after receiving this vaccine. If the child ever needs to receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shots caused any side effects.
Becoming infected with measles, mumps, rubella, or varicella is much more dangerous to your child's health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.
Call your doctor at once if your child has any of these serious side effects:
- a high fever;
- easy bruising or bleeding;
- a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
- a seizure; or
- nervous system problems--numbness, pain, tingling, weakness, burning or prickly feeling, vision or hearing problems, trouble breathing.
Common side effects may include:
- redness, pain, or swelling where the shot was given;
- rash; or
- feeling irritable (fussiness in a young child).
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.
MMRV vaccine is sometimes given at the same time as other vaccines. Before receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor about all other vaccines your child has recently received.
Also tell the doctor if your child has recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system, including:
- an oral, nasal, inhaled, or injectable steroid medicine;
- chemotherapy or radiation cancer treatments;
- medications to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disorders; or
- medicines to treat or prevent organ transplant rejection.
If your child is receiving any of these medications, he or she may not be able to receive the vaccine, or may need to wait until the other treatments are finished.
Other drugs may affect MMR vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.
Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about this vaccine. Additional information is available from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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