Mumps immunisation

Mumps immunisation

Mumps is very easy to catch. Immunisation given on time is the only way to prevent mumps.

Key points to remember about mumps immunisation

  • mumps is caused by a virus
  • it is very easy to catch 
  • immunisation is the only way to prevent mumps

What is mumps?

Mumps is a viral illness which can be serious. It spreads very easily from one person to another.

Can I do anything to prevent my child catching mumps?

Photo of a boy with mumps showing swelling in the glands on one side of his face

Immunisation is the only way to prevent mumps. ​

Immunisation given on time is the only way to prevent mumps.

Combined measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) immunisation is the only vaccine available to prevent mumps in New Zealand. No mumps-only vaccine is available in New Zealand.

Your child can have MMR as part of the free National Immunisation Schedule at 15 months and 4 years of age. 

If you're unsure about whether your child has had MMR immunisation, or you can't find your records, you can check with your Well Child Tamariki Ora provider or Well Child book, or contact your family doctor.

How effective is immunisation against mumps?

You need 2 doses of MMR. 2 doses protects up to 90 in 100 people from mumps.

Usually, children have the first dose of MMR at 15 months because MMR immunisation does not work as well in infants under 12 months.

A small number of people who have had MMR immunisation will still catch mumps. But, they're less likely to get serious complications from the illness.

Who should have MMR immunisation?

Children usually have 2 doses of MMR - one dose at 15 months of age and a second at 4 years of age.

During a mumps outbreak:

  • babies can have MMR immunisation at 12 months of age and then a second dose 28 days later
  • if your child has had their 15-month immunisation but is not yet 4, talk to your family doctor about having their second dose of MMR early

Adults who lack evidence of immunity to mumps should also have MMR immunisation.

People with an allergy to egg CAN have MMR immunisation.

Who should not have MMR immunisation?

The following people should not have MMR immunisation:

  • pregnant women
  • anyone who has an illness, or is taking medicines, which affect their immune system 
  • babies under 12 months of age 
  • anyone who has experienced a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of MMR
  • anyone who has received another live vaccine, including chickenpox or BCG, within the previous month

Delay MMR if your child has a sudden severe illness with high fever (over 38 degrees Celsius). The presence of a minor infection is not a reason to delay immunisation.

If you find out you are pregnant after having MMR immunisation, talk to your family doctor. But, research has found no injury to the unborn child when women have had MMR immunisation without realising they were pregnant. 

Who should seek more advice before having MMR?

  • anyone who has received human immunoglobulin or other blood product within the previous 11 months
  • anyone who is HIV-positive
  • anyone who is unsure if they have an immune deficiency or taking medication to suppress their immune system
  • anyone who developed low platelets (idiopathic thrombocytopenia or ITP) after a previous dose of MMR

How safe is MMR?

The risk of MMR causing serious harm is extremely rare. MMR is considerably safer than getting mumps. See Mumps complications vs side effects of MMR immunisation.

Can MMR cause autism?

No.

Extensive research shows there is no evidence that MMR causes autism, Crohn's disease or ADHD.

For more information, see the following:

Does MMR contain thiomersal (or mercury)?

No.

Ministry of Health Immunisation Handbook 2017 (mumps chapter). Wellington: Ministry of Health. https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/immshandbook-13-mumps-mar18-v2.pdf [Accessed 1/04/2019]

This page last reviewed 01 April 2019.
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