Recent suggestions by anti-vaccine groups state that there is a link between autism and the vaccination for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR). Studies by many health organizations have found no solid evidence supporting this statement; so do not panic if you hear that the shot is dangerous. It’s best to look at the statistics.
Measles is a viral disease spread through saliva (sneezing or coughing.) The illness starts with a fever, coughing, runny nose, and pink eye. From there a rash, croup, diarrhea, ear infections, and pneumonia can all occur.
In one out of every 1,000 cases, the virus leads to brain damage. Close to .003% of those infected with the measles dies every year. Measles related deaths are more closely attached to infants and children with underlying health conditions.
Mumps is a viral disease spread by mucus droplets that exit a body though coughing or sneezing. Mumps commonly cause swollen glands and fever, but other symptoms such as enlarged testicles (male), swollen ovaries (women), enlarged pancreas, and deafness can occur. Since the vaccine became available in 1967, the number of people diagnosed with mumps has dropped from 200,000 to less than 600.
The virus known as Rubella is transmitted through saliva emitted through a sneeze or cough. Common symptoms include low-grade fever, a rash, and swollen lymph nodes. In a smaller number of patients, symptoms can include joint pain and encephalitis (swelling of the brain lining.) Rubella can be deadly to an unborn fetus.
MMR is one vaccine that offers protection against all three diseases. The MMR vaccine is given in two doses. The first dose is given at the child’s one-year check-up. The follow-up dose is given between the fourth and sixth birthday. Immunity lasts a lifetime following the second dose.
Eighty percent of all children immunized against MMR have no side effects. Approximately five percent develop a mid-range fever (103º or less). In very rare cases, .001% of those immunized suffers an allergic reaction and may have a seizure. If this happens, seek care from a professional. No child has died following the MMR vaccination.