In some years, there are more cases of mumps than usual because of outbreaks. Mumps outbreaks can occur any time of year but often occur in winter and spring. A major factor contributing to outbreaks is being in a crowded environment, such as attending the same class, playing on the same sports team, or living in a dormitory with a person who has mumps.
Although the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is very effective, protection against mumps is not complete. Two doses of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine are 88% effective at protecting against mumps; one dose is 78% effective. Outbreaks can still occur in highly vaccinated U.S. communities, particularly in close-contact settings. In recent years, outbreaks have occurred in schools, colleges, and camps. However, high vaccination coverage helps limit the size, duration, and spread of mumps outbreaks.
Mumps – Vaccine Q&A
- Is there a vaccine to prevent mumps?
Yes. Two doses of mumps-containing vaccine, given as combination measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, separated by at least 28 days, are routinely recommended for all children. The first dose is given on or after the first birthday; the second is given at 4 – 6 years of age. MMR is a live, weakened (attenuated) vaccine. Most adults who have not been vaccinated should also receive 1 dose of MMR vaccine, but adults who work in healthcare, a school/university setting, and persons at high risk of exposure to mumps should get 2 doses. Pregnant women and persons with an impaired immune system should not receive live attenuated vaccines (MMR vaccine).
- Is the vaccine effective/does it work?
One dose of mumps vaccine will ‘take’ (be effective) in approximately 80% of people vaccinated, but two doses of mumps vaccine will ‘take’ in approximately 90% of people. Therefore, two doses are better at preventing mumps than one dose.
- Where can I get the vaccine?
Most family and pediatric doctors keep vaccine in their clinics; and local health departments usually have vaccine.
Up to half of people who get mumps have very mild or no symptoms, and therefore do not know they were infected with mumps.
The most common symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides (parotitis)
Symptoms typically appear 16-18 days after infection, but this period can range from 12-25 days after infection.
What should I do if I don’t know if I’ve been vaccinated?
Get vaccinated. The MMR vaccine is safe and there is no increased risk of side effects if a person gets another vaccination.
If I had mumps as a child, can I get it again/should I get vaccinated?
Most people who have mumps will be protected (immune) from getting mumps again. There is a small percent of people though, who could get reinfected with mumps and have a milder illness. If mumps was not diagnosed by a physician, then that person is not considered immune and vaccination is recommended.
If I was exposed to someone with mumps, what should I do?
Not everyone who is exposed to someone with mumps will get sick. If a person has been vaccinated with two doses of mumps vaccine, it is very unlikely they will get mumps. However, if a person hasn’t been vaccinated, it is possible they could get sick and they should watch for symptoms of mumps. Additionally, if a person hasn’t been vaccinated, this is a good time to get another dose of mumps vaccine, and to make sure that everyone else in the house where they live is also vaccinated.
Mumps vaccine has not been shown to be effective in preventing disease after exposure, but vaccination of exposed susceptible persons will reduce the risk of disease from possible future exposures. If symptoms develop (generally 16-18 days after exposure), the person should not go to school or work for at least 5 days and should contact their medical provider.