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Time to Immunize

What you need to know about mumps

About mumps…

What is mumps?

Mumps is a disease caused by a virus. Its most common symptom is swollen, painful cheeks and neck.

Mumps usually affects children, and most of the time they do not get very sick.  Adults can also get mumps and if they do, it can be very painful.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

The most typical signs of mumps are fever, headache and swollen glands, usually under the ears or jaw on one or both sides of the face. This swelling is painful and makes the cheeks bulge out. Some children may also complain of earaches and sore muscles or lose their appetites.

How can my child catch mumps?

Mumps is spread though close contact between people, usually when a person who has mumps sneezes or coughs. The infection also spreads when children touch toys or other things that someone with mumps has handled, and then rub their eyes or mouths.

Why is mumps serious?

Mumps could make your child deaf. It could also cause meningitis, a serious disease that infects the lining around your child's spinal cord and brain. Children can die from meningitis. In rare cases, mumps can affect future ability to have children.

Why should my child be immunized against mumps?

Although mumps is less frequent in Canada, there have been recent outbreaks, primarily among people who did not have up-to-date immunization. In 2007, there were over 1200 mumps cases reported in Canada.  Without immunization, mumps outbreaks could be even bigger. The mumps vaccine is your child's best defense against this disease. Experience in other countries has shown that diseases like mumps quickly return when fewer people are immunized. Even though mumps is not common in Canada, outbreaks are common in many parts of the world. This means that someone from another country could become infected abroad and could bring mumps into Canada and infect children who aren’t immunized.

About the mumps vaccine...

What kind of vaccine is given to prevent mumps?

The mumps vaccine is given by needle and is very safe. Like all vaccines authorized for use in Canada, it went through several stages of rigorous testing before being authorized for use.   The mumps vaccine is administered as part of combined vaccines – called MMR or MMRV. The MMR vaccine protects your child from measles, mumps and rubella, while the MMRV vaccine protects your child from measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chicken pox).

Does the MMR vaccine cause autism?

The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine does not cause autism. Medical researchers and scientists around the world have studied information collected over many years to see whether there is a link between the MMR vaccine and autism - a lifelong developmental disorder. They have not found any evidence of a link.

Are there any side effects?

Side effects of the mumps vaccine are usually very mild. Your child may have a slight fever, be fussy, sleepier or have less appetite than usual. Your child’s arm or thigh might be a bit red or sore where the needle went in. These side effects are very common, happen 12 to 24 hours after the immunization and usually go away within a few days. Overall, these side effects are much milder than the effects –or complications – of having mumps.

In rare cases, there may be fever and discomfort, with or without rash, lasting up to 3 days and occurring 7 to 12 days after immunization. One in 3,000 children with fever may have associated convulsions. The rubella component of the combined, MMR vaccine can occasionally cause joint inflammation and pain, which can last up to three months.

When should my child get the mumps vaccine?

Canadian guidelines recommend that all children get two doses of the combined mumps-containing vaccine (MMR or MMRV). The first dose is usually given when children are one year old and the second is given either when they are 18 months or before they start school (between ages 4 and 6).

Schedules may vary from province to province. Calculate your child's personal immunization schedule to see when your child should be immunized against 13 vaccine preventable diseases, including mumps.

Can giving my child several vaccines at the same time overwhelm the immune system?

No.   Combination vaccines that provide protection against multiple diseases in one vaccine have been shown to be safe and effective. Giving combination vaccines protects children against more diseases sooner. As an added benefit, it also reduces children's discomfort by reducing the number of injections they receive. And it saves parents the time and expense of additional office visits.

Who should not get the mumps vaccine?

A child who has had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of this combination vaccine should not get the vaccine again.

Signs of a severe allergic reaction would include breathing problems (wheezing), swelling and blotchy skin on the body (hives) or around the mouth. If you see any of these symptoms or are concerned about your child's health, it's always a good idea to check with your doctor or public health office (local community service centre (CLSC) in Quebec).

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