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What Is the MMR Vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects against Measles, Mumps and Rubella (also called German measles). Measles is caused by the highly contagious measle virus, a part of the paramyxovirus family, and causes fever, cough, runny nose, and a distinctive red rash. Measles can lead to serious complications that include severe pneumonia and encephalitis, and there is no current treatment for measles. Mumps is caused by the mumps virus, also a member of the paramyxovirus family, and affects the salivary glands with painful swelling in the jaw and face. Some infections can cause serious complications that include meningitis, orchitis in testicles, and oophoritis in ovaries. Again, there is no specific treatment for Mumps. Rubella (German measles) is caused by the rubella virus, which is part of the togavirus family, and is most dangerous in pregnancy as it can cause the fetus to be born with birth defects known as congenital rubella syndrome, that can include growth retardation and blindness. Symptoms are treatable but will not shorten the course of the virus, and isolation is essential. Measles, mumps, and rubella are all spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes and spreads the virus. These viral illnesses and their serious complications can be prevented with the MMR Vaccine.

The MMR Vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine in which the live virus has been weakened (attenuated), so it cannot cause disease in healthy individuals. The immune system responds and produces antibodies as a real infection would and builds immunity with the effects of the actual diseases. Live attenuated vaccines elicit a strong and lasting immune response. Marketed MMR Vaccines include M-M-R II from Merck and Priorix from GlaxoSmithKline.

What Are the Adverse Effects of the MMR Vaccine?

Like all vaccines, the MMR Vaccine is generally safe but can cause serious side effects in a very small number of people. The risk of a severe injury from a measles, mumps and rubella infection is considered much higher than the risk of serious side effects from the MMR Vaccine, and, thus, the benefits of vaccination outweigh any risks on a population basis. Most reactions are a mild fever, rash, swelling or pain at the injection site or temporary joint pain. More serious reactions are rare and may include seizures caused by fever and bleeding caused by low platelets. Although extremely rare, on the order of one per million doses, severe allergic reactions, deafness, long-term seizures, coma, and brain injury (encephalitis) can occur from the vaccine. Whereas about 1 in every 1000 children with measles suffer from encephalitis.

The MMR is a covered vaccination within the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Table specifically lists the following injuries and time frames:

  • anaphylaxis onset within 4 hours,
  • encephalopathy onset 5-15 days after vaccination,
  • shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA) onset within 48 hours,
  • syncope within 1-hour,
  • chronic arthritis onset 7-42 days after, and
  • low platelets and bleeding (thrombocytopenic purpura) onset 7-30 days after.

People with these same injuries outside these time frames or with other characteristics may still be eligible for compensation; however, proof of causation of injury through expert testimony is required.

What Compensation Is Available for a Vaccine Injury?

To be compensable, the vaccine-related injury must be present for at least six months. Injury must either be listed on the table of vaccine injuries and fit into these specific symptoms and timeframes, or the petitioner must show through medical evidence that the injury was more likely than not caused by the vaccination. If a patient establishes that the vaccine likely caused their injury, compensation can be awarded for medical and rehabilitative expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings, and a death benefit if there was a fatal event. However, damages for past and future pain and suffering are limited to a maximum amount of $250,000.

Why Contact an Experienced Vaccine Attorney?

To present a claim to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, an attorney must be admitted to the United States Court of Federal Claims. Knowledge about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) process and knowing the medical proofs required to obtain compensation are critical to success. There are complex issues in medicine and immunology that must be analyzed and proven in a claim for an MMR vaccine injury. The program has strict criteria for proving a vaccine injury that requires legally- and medically-complex documentation, and this is best handled by attorneys who have experience in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

Our lawyers have extensive experience handling these claims through the NVIC and can guide you through all stages of the legal process. Contact us today for help.