MMR and Chicken Pox Vaccines

MMR stands for measles, mumps, and rubella. The MMR vaccination is given after your child's first birthday since it is not that effective before then. However, if there has been a frequent occurrence of one of these diseases in your neighborhood, the vaccine can be administered earlier and may possibly offer some protection.

Measles can be a very serious disease. Symptoms of it include fever, rash, coughing, runny nose and watery eyes. It can result in ear infections, pneumonia, swelling of the brain, and even death.

Although mumps do not necessarily pose a serious threat to children, it can lead to male sterility later in life, which is why it is guarded against early on. Mumps can also lead to meningitis, which is a swelling of the brain and spinal cord, and in extreme cases, hearing loss.

Like mumps, rubella (also known as German measles) does not pose a serious threat to children who are infected. However, rubella can cause birth defects in pregnant women. Being immunized early in life helps protect girls from becoming infected when they get older and also helps to prevent children from infecting their pregnant mothers.

While this is usually administered as a combination immunization, that is, as one shot for all three diseases, the vaccines for each disease can be separated and administered individually if the need arises.

Chicken Pox
Here's an infection that most parents can remember going through; the discomfort of those itchy, red spots covering every part of your body. You probably received your immunity to them the old-fashioned way - by suffering through those itchy few weeks while your body built up the antibodies to prevent another infection. Well, now a vaccine has been developed that can prevent your children from having to go through that.

Known as the varicella vaccine, it can be administered in one dose up to the age of 12. People 13 and older should receive two doses, four to eight weeks apart. Babies can receive the vaccine after their first birthday, usually at the same time as their MMR shot.

The vaccine has been shown to be anywhere from 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing chicken pox and as much as 95 percent effective in preventing serious cases of the disease. Of those people who do end up developing chicken pox after having the vaccine, their bout with chicken pox tends to be very mild with a much quicker recovery time. However, the drug is still pretty new so the length of effectiveness has still to be conclusively determined. Preliminary trials put the effectiveness between 14 and 25 years.

While chicken pox is not necessarily a very serious disease, it can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis, an infection of the brain. In some cases, hospitalization is required, and in rare cases, death can result.

Before you take your child to be immunized, learn about minimizing potential risks and read about some of the reactions you might expect after your child has had the vaccine.