MMRV (Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella) Vaccine - What You Need to Know
All content below is taken in its entirety from the CDC MMRV (Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella) Vaccine Information Statement (VIS): www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mmrv.html
CDC review information for the MMRV VIS:
- Page last updated: August 6, 2021
Why get vaccinated?
MMRV vaccine can prevent measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella.
- MEASLES (M) causes fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes, commonly followed by a rash that covers the whole body. It can lead to seizures (often associated with fever), ear infections, diarrhea, and pneumonia. Rarely, measles can cause brain damage or death.
- MUMPS (M) causes fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears. It can lead to deafness, swelling of the brain and/or spinal cord covering, painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries, and, very rarely, death.
- RUBELLA (R) causes fever, sore throat, rash, headache, and eye irritation. It can cause arthritis in up to half of teenage and adult women. If a person gets rubella while they are pregnant, they could have a miscarriage or the baby could be born with serious birth defects.
- VARICELLA (V), also called "chickenpox," causes an itchy rash, in addition to fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, and headache. It can lead to skin infections, pneumonia, inflammation of the blood vessels, swelling of the brain and/or spinal cord covering, and infection of the blood, bones, or joints. Some people who get chickenpox get a painful rash called "shingles" (also known as herpes zoster) years later.
Most people who are vaccinated with MMRV will be protected for life. Vaccines and high rates of vaccination have made these diseases much less common in the United States.
MMRV vaccine may be given to children 12 months through 12 years of age usually:
- First dose at age 12 through 15 months
- Second dose at age 4 through 6 years
MMRV vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines. Instead of MMRV, some children might receive separate shots for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and varicella. Your health care provider can give you more information.
Talk with your health care provider
Tell your vaccination provider if the person getting the vaccine:
- Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of MMRV, MMR, or varicella vaccine, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies
- Is pregnant, or thinks they might be pregnant -- pregnant people should not get MMRV vaccine
- Has a weakened immune system, or has a parent, brother, or sister with a history of hereditary or congenital immune system problems
- Has ever had a condition that makes him or her bruise or bleed easily
- Has a history of seizures, or has a parent, brother, or sister with a history of seizures
- Is taking, or plans to take salicylates (such as aspirin)
- Has recently had a blood transfusion or received other blood products
- Has tuberculosis
- Has gotten any other vaccines in the past 4 weeks
In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone MMRV vaccination until a future visit or may recommend that the child receive separate MMR and varicella vaccines instead of MMRV.
People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. Children who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting MMRV vaccine.
Your health care provider can give you more information.
Risks of a vaccine reaction
- Sore arm from the injection, redness where the shot is given, fever, and a mild rash can happen after MMRV vaccination.
- Swelling of the glands in the cheeks or neck or temporary pain and stiffness in the joints sometimes occur after MMRV vaccination.
- Seizures, often associated with fever, can happen after MMRV vaccine. The risk of seizures is higher after MMRV than after separate MMR and varicella vaccines when given as the first dose of the two-dose series in younger children. Your health care provider can advise you about the appropriate vaccines for your child.
- More serious reactions happen rarely, including temporary low platelet count, which can cause unusual bleeding or bruising.
- In people with serious immune system problems, this vaccine may cause an infection that may be life-threatening. People with serious immune system problems should not get MMRV vaccine.
If a person develops a rash after MMRV vaccination, it could be related to either the measles or the varicella component of the vaccine. The varicella vaccine virus could be spread to an unprotected person. Anyone who gets a rash should stay away from infants and people with a weakened immune system until the rash goes away. Talk with your health care provider to learn more.
Some people who are vaccinated against chickenpox get shingles (herpes zoster) years later. This is much less common after vaccination than after chickenpox disease.
People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.
What if there is a serious problem?
An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 9-1-1 and get the person to the nearest hospital.
For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider.
Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website at www.vaers.hhs.gov or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff members do not give medical advice.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Claims regarding alleged injury or death due to vaccination have a time limit for filing, which may be as short as two years. Visit the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation/index.html or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and about filing a claim.
How can I learn more?
- Ask your health care provider.
- Call your local or state health department.
- Visit the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for vaccine package inserts and additional information at www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/vaccines.
Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Call 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO) or
- Visit CDC's website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. MMR (measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella) vaccine. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mmrv.html. Updated August 6, 2021. Accessed August 12, 2021.
Review Date: 8/6/2021
Reviewed By: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.