Two doses of mumps "MMR" vaccine better than one

Wed May 18, 2011 2:44pm EDT
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By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A recent outbreak of mumps in Canada underscores the importance of getting the recommended two doses of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, researchers reported Monday.

A study investigating the 2009-2010 mumps outbreak showed that almost three-quarters of people affected had received either no MMR shot or only one dose.

At particular risk were teenagers and young adults ages 15 to 24, who accounted for more than half of the 134 outbreak cases.

Many people in that age group would not have gotten a second MMR dose, which was not recommended in Canada until 1996. And compared with older adults, they would have more chances to be exposed to mumps -- from living in a college dorm, for example.

The findings underline the importance of having children get the recommended two doses of MMR, said lead researcher Dr. Shelley L. Deeks of the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion in Toronto.

In addition, she told Reuters Health, "We need to ensure that older adolescents and young adults are up-to-date with their second dose, especially before they go to university."

Deeks and her colleagues report their findings in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Mumps is a viral infection that causes fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen glands around the jaw. Most people recover in a few weeks, but a small number of patients can have serious complications, such as an inflammation of the brain that can be life-threatening, or hearing damage (usually temporary), or painful inflammation of the testicles or ovaries.   Continued...