Cochrane Summaries

Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health.

Using the combined vaccine for protection of children against measles, mumps and rubella

Demicheli V, Rivetti A, Debalini MG, Di Pietrantonj C
Published Online: 
15 February 2012

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) are three very dangerous infectious diseases which cause severe morbidity, disability and death in low-income countries.

Based on the evidence provided by three cohort studies (3104 participants), vaccination with one dose of MMR vaccine is at least 95% effective in preventing clinical measles among preschool children; in schoolchildren and adolescents at least one dose of MMR vaccine was 98% effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed measles cases; one or two MMR doses were respectively 92% and 95% effective in preventing secondary measles cases.

At least one dose of MMR vaccine is effective in preventing clinical mumps among children and adolescents when prepared with Jeryl Lynn strains (vaccine effectiveness = 69% to 81%, one cohort and one case-control study, 1656 participants), as well as when prepared with Urabe strain (vaccine effectiveness = 70% to 75%, one cohort and one case-control study, 1964 participants). Effectiveness against laboratory-confirmed mumps in children and adolescents was estimated to be between 64% to 66% for one and 83% to 88% for two doses of Jeryl Lynn MMR (two case-control studies, 1664 participants) and 87% for Urabe-containing MMR (one cohort study, 48 participants). Vaccination with Urabe MMR confers protection against secondary mumps infection (vaccine effectiveness = 73%, one cohort study, 147 participants).

We identified no studies assessing the effectiveness of MMR vaccine against clinical or laboratory-confirmed rubella.

Results from two very large case series studies involving about 1,500,000 children who were given the MMR vaccine containing Urabe or Leningrad-Zagreb strains show this vaccine to be associated with aseptic meningitis; whereas administration of the vaccine containing Moraten, Jeryl Lynn, Wistar RA, RIT 4385 strains is associated with febrile convulsion in children aged below five years (one person-time cohort study, 537,171 participants; two self controlled case series studies, 1001 participants). The MMR vaccine could also be associated with idiopathic thrombocytopaenic purpura (two case-controls, 2450 participants, one self controlled case series, 63 participants).

We could assess no significant association between MMR immunisation and the following conditions: autism, asthma, leukaemia, hay fever, type 1 diabetes, gait disturbance, Crohn's disease, demyelinating diseases, or bacterial or viral infections. The methodological quality of many of the included studies made it difficult to generalise their results.

The glossary of study designs is available in the full-text review.