The Risks of Immunosuppression and Receiving the MMR Vaccine


The MMR vaccine is an injection composed of the live mumps, measles, and rubella viruses. With the exception of developing countries, MMR vaccinations have become prevalent all over the world. The main reason for this is their prevention of the spread of the highly contagious diseases. Though MMR vaccines are effective, they are not always safe and can cause dangerous health problems in people who have a compromised immune system. So before anyone ever gets an MMR vaccine, they should read the following information on the risks that they pose:

What Causes a Compromised Immune System?

In a healthy person, the body reacts aggressively to remove the presence of any foreign viruses or bacteria. White blood cells and antibodies quickly attack before the invaders can ever get a chance to cause further injury. But some health problems can cause the immune system to malfunction. So it either starts attacking healthy tissue or it simply doesn’t react at all. This is particularly common in those who have lymphoma, leukemia, or HIV. It can also occur in people who take prescription medications that lower their immune system for more than two weeks, such as steroids. The long-term use of topical corticosteroids or antibiotics can cause it too.

How Does a Compromised Immune System Affect the MMR Vaccine?

Vaccines work by injecting a person with a minute amount of a virus or bacteria. The body responds by identifying the virus or bacteria as a foreign invader. Then, it makes a special antibody against it. So if the person is ever exposed to the virus or bacteria again, the antibodies will protect them from getting the disease. A vaccine has to be done for each type of virus or bacteria that someone is at risk of contracting. However, if someone has a compromised immune system, then they won’t be able to make antibodies to defend them against the virus or bacteria. So it will end up replicating out of control.

Why is the Over Replication of Viruses and Bacteria Dangerous?

If the body can’t stop the replication of a virus or bacteria, then a person will end up developing a dangerous infection that could make them very sick. Sometimes, they can even die from it. Without their body’s immune system being able to respond properly, there is no way that they can do anything to stop it from attacking. And even antibiotics won’t help.

What are the Side Effects of an MMR Vaccine on a Person With a Compromised Immune System?

The mumps, measles, and rubella viruses in this vaccine each have different symptoms. So those with a compromised immune system will start to develop all of them at once. But they will be even worse than they would be if the immune system was working properly. Mumps causes swelling of the face, especially the cheeks. Measles induces a high fever, loss of appetite, convulsions, and a rash. And rubella inflames the joints of the body in the same way that arthritis does.

What Can be Done to Prevent These Side Effects?

The best way to prevent a person with a compromised immune system from the harmful side effects of an MMR vaccine is for them to wait to get it until their immune system is better. But in the meantime, they should avoid being around anyone else who has recently gotten the vaccine. Once they are able to get the MMR vaccine, they may need to get frequent boosters of it to ensure that they have continued immunity.

Learn more about the MMR Vaccine.


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