MMR stands for measles, mumps and rubella.
Now rare, mumps is a contagious viral disease. Usually mild in children, it can be more serious for adults—particularly for up to 50 percent of males past puberty, who experience orchitis (testicular inflammation) as a complication.
Rubella, also called German measles, caused a world-wide epidemic from 1963 to 1965. In the United States alone, about 11,000 babies died and 20,000 babies developed birth defects from rubella, according to the national Centers for Disease Control. It's still common elsewhere.
Measles and German measles are two different viruses.
Anyone at any age who is not immune to measles, and has no condition that would prohibit receiving the vaccine, should receive 2 doses of MMR vaccine at least 28 days apart, Rockland County Health Department officials said after releasing the news that a child with measles had been at the Palisades Mall on Super Bowl Sunday.
"Vaccines are one of the most important tools you have for preventing certain diseases," says the CDC website. "If you travel to other countries, it is important to get vaccinated. Some diseases that are not common in the United States still exist in other parts of the world. In addition, in an airport or airplane, other people can expose you to disease."
In an article on WebMD.com, Dr. Debra Spicehandler, an infectious diseases expert at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, agreed greater awareness of the benefits of vaccination to prevent more diseases than just measles, mumps and rubella, is critical for adults.
"Vaccinations are mostly likely low in the healthy adult population who do not regularly seek health care and who do not have underlying diseases," Spicehandler said. "Nationwide campaigns to focus on all adults should be started."
Most adults don't seek or accept adult vaccines, the WebMD article said, for reasons including fears that vaccines might cause autism, a concern that has been widely discredited, or lead to illness or severe reactions.