The MMR vaccine protects against three diseases – measles, mumps and rubella.
Measles is a very contagious disease that can be serious or even fatal for small children. It is still a common disease in many parts of the world,including areas in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Around the world, about 20 million people get measles every year and approximately 146,000 die. In the U.S., most of the recent measles outbreaks have been a result of unvaccinated U.S. travelers bringing the disease back with them into the country.
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Mumps is a contagious disease, which is spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing, and through close contact with infected people. Mumps is still a common disease in many countries, particularly because not all countries use the mumps vaccine. Travelers have a high risk of mumps in many countries of the world, including the United Kingdom, which has had several outbreaks since 2004, and Japan, which does not routinely vaccinate against mumps. The United States also continues to have outbreaks of mumps. From year to year, the number of mumps cases range. In 2016, there were approximately 6,366 cases reported to CDC, and as of the beginning of September there have been over 4,400 measles cases reported to CDC during 2017.
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Rubella, also called German measles, is a contagious disease spread through coughing and sneezing. While the disease is usually mild in children and adults, rubella can be very dangerous for pregnant women and their babies. Rubella has been eliminated in the U.S.; however, travelers going to other countries are at risk for the disease. Since rubella infections without symptoms are common, travelers may be unaware that they have been in contact with an infected person.
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The CDC recommends that all U.S. residents older than 6 months receive MMR vaccine before traveling internationally. Specifically:
In order to show evidence of immunity, you should have at least one of the following: written documentation of adequate vaccination, laboratory evidence of immunity, laboratory confirmation of measles. People born in the United States before 1957 are considered to be immune from measles.
Click here to view the CDC’s recommended immunization schedules for children, adolescents and adults.
Visit the CDC’s Travelers Health website to learn more about the diseases you need to protect yourself against based on the type of traveler you are and your travel destination.