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Medications Lexicon

How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

The measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine belongs to a group of medication known as vaccines. It is used to prevent infection with measles (rubeola), mumps, and rubella (German measles).

The measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine is made from live measles, mumps, and rubella viruses that have been weakened to the point where they will not cause disease. This vaccine is intended for people 12 months of age or older. In some cases, the doctor may decide to use this medication in people younger than 12 months of age. It works by stimulating the production of a person's own antibodies, which remain in the body ready to attack any of the three types of virus should they enter the body naturally.

Your doctor may have suggested this vaccine for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this vaccine may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you or your child is receiving this vaccine, speak to your doctor.

How should I use this medication?

For anyone 12 months or older, the recommended dose is 0.5 mL injected subcutaneously (under the skin), preferably into the outer part of the upper arm. For children, a second dose (0.5 mL) is usually recommended to be given at least one month after the first dose (this is usually given either at the age of 18 months or at the age of 4 to 6 years, before they start school) to better protect against the measles. If a child was vaccinated before they were 12 months old, 2 additional doses (0.5 mL per dose) should be given after they are 12 months old.

Children and adolescents 17 years or younger who were not immunized in early infancy should receive 2 doses of the vaccine (0.5 mL per dose). The first dose should be given as soon as possible and the second dose should be given 2 months later.

Adults who are susceptible to these diseases but were not immunized during their childhood should receive one dose (0.5 mL).

This vaccine is given by a health care professional in a doctor's office or clinic.

It is very important that this vaccine be given on a regular schedule as prescribed by the doctor. If you or your child misses a dose of this vaccine, check with your health care professional. Add all vaccines to yours or your child's immunization record.

Store this medication in the refrigerator and protect it from light. The diluent used to reconstitute the vaccine can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge but should not be frozen.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

M-M-R II is a sterile lyophilized preparation of:

  • ATTENUVAX, a more attenuated line of measles virus, derived from Enders' attenuated Edmonston strain and propagated in chick embryo cell culture;
  • MUMPSVAX, the Jeryl Lynn (B level) strain of mumps virus propagated in chick embryo cell cultures; and
  • MERUVAX II, the Wistar RA 27/3 strain of live attenuated rubella virus propagated in human diploid lung fibroblasts.

When reconstituted, each 0.5 mL dose contains not less than the equivalent of 1000 CCID50 (50% cell culture infective dose) of measles virus; 5000 CCID50 of mumps virus; and 1000 CCID50 of rubella virus. Nonmedicinal ingredients: 14.5 mg of sorbitol, sodium phosphate, 1.9 mg of sucrose, sodium chloride, 14.5 mg of hydrolyzed gelatin, ≤0.3 mg of recombinant human albumin, <1 ppm of fetal bovine serum, and approximately 25 µg of neomycin. The growth media may include a buffered salt solution (containing vitamins, amino acids, and fetal bovine serum), SPGA (sucrose, phosphate, glutamate, and recombinant human albumin), hydrolyzed gelatin, neomycin, and sorbitol. Preservative-free.

Who should NOT take this medication?

The measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine vaccine should not be used by anyone who:

  • is allergic to the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine or to any or the ingredients of the vaccine
  • is allergic to neomycin
  • is pregnant or who intends to become pregnant within the next 3 months
  • is receiving treatment with ACTH, corticosteroids (except for replacement therapy), irradiation, alkylating agents (e.g., cisplatin, cyclophosphamide), or antimetabolites (e.g., fluorouracil, methotrexate)
  • has a family history of immunodeficiency, at least until the doctor determines that the person's immune system is working properly to receive vaccines
  • has a primary or acquired immunodeficiency - a condition where part of the immune system is missing or not working properly (e.g., symptomatic HIV, AIDS, cellular immune deficiencies)
  • has any illness associated with a fever
  • has certain blood disorders, leukemia, lymphomas of any type, or other types of cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic systems
  • has tuberculosis that is active and untreated

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone receives this vaccine. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this vaccine with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people receiving this vaccine. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you or your child experiences these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • burning or stinging at place of the injection
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • irritability
  • joint aches, pains, or swelling
  • runny nose

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • bruising or purple spots on the skin
  • cough
  • ear pain or infection
  • eye infection
  • fainting
  • headache (severe)
  • nausea or vomiting
  • neck stiffness
  • pain, tenderness, or swelling in testicles and scrotum
  • peeling or blistering of the skin
  • skin rash

Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • seizures
  • symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (e.g., difficulty in breathing or swallowing; hives; swelling of the mouth, throat, or face)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you after you or your child receives this vaccine.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you or your child receives this vaccine, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you or your child may have, any medications you or your child is taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your child or your health. These factors may affect the vaccine you or your child is receiving.

Allergy to eggs: People who have an allergy to eggs that causes anaphylaxis (hives, swelling of the mouth and throat, difficulty breathing) should discuss with their doctor the risks and benefits of receiving this vaccine and whether any special monitoring is needed.

HIV infection that is not symptomatic: Children and young adults known to be infected with HIV but without symptoms may be vaccinated; however, they should be monitored closely for exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases because vaccination may be less effective.

Low platelet counts: People with low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia) or who experienced low platelet counts with the first dose of this vaccine should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Seizures or fever: People with a personal or family history of seizures, a history of brain injury, or a condition in which fever should be avoided should discuss with their doctor how this medication may affect their medical condition and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Vaccine protection: As for any vaccine, the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine may not protect 100% of people who receive it and may not prevent infection in those people already infected with the viruses.

Pregnancy: This vaccine is not recommended for women who are pregnant or who intend to become pregnant within the next 3 months. Women who may become pregnant should take necessary precautions to avoid pregnancy for 3 months following vaccination. If you become pregnant within 3 months of receiving the vaccine, talk to your doctor.

Breast-feeding: The rubella virus may pass into breast milk but it is not known if the measles or mumps vaccine passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are receiving this vaccine, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of this vaccine have not been established for children younger than 12 months of age. In special situations, however, your child's doctor may recommend this vaccine for children under 12 months of age.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and any of the following:

  • abatacept
  • adalimumab
  • alemtuzumab
  • antineoplastic (chemotherapy) medications
  • azathioprine
  • blood transfusions
  • corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone, dexamethasone)
  • cyclosporine
  • daclizumab
  • efalizumab
  • etanercept
  • immune globulins
  • infliximab
  • sirolimus
  • tacrolimus

If you or your child is taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your child's or your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you or your child to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you or your child is taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you or your child must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this vaccine. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), supplements, and herbal medications you or your child is taking. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2018. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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