Is The Measles Vaccine Safe For Babies?

A new study looked at the safety of the measles vaccines for one-year-olds.

baby vaccine. Ariel Skelley/Getty

As the mother of a six-month-old baby, I have understandably been concerned about the recent measles outbreak. And as a medical professional, I have been trying to do the most unbiased research that I possibly can on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. 

It can be so, so hard to make the kind of decisions that feel like literal life or death for our children and we want to know that the decisions we are making are for the best.

So one of the areas that has come under scrutiny lately is, of course, the safety of the measles vaccine. With so many health professionals urging parents to vaccinate their children, I think it's only fair to address parents' questions about the vaccine, such as: is the vaccine safe for babies? What side effects does it have? And are children more at risk from a vaccine that combines several doses in on injection, like the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine? 

Vaccines, like any other medical treatment, can have side effects. And while the safety and effectiveness of vaccines have long been proven by science without a doubt, many parents are still concerned about the documented side effects and risks of vaccines, which can include things like fevers and febrile seizures, which are seizures brought on by high fevers. 

So a new study listed in Pediatrics looked to see if the risk of febrile seizures was more when the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) was combined with the vaccine for chickenpox, known as varicella.

 Many parents worry over combined vaccines in particular, worrying that too many vaccines in one shot may "overload" the immune system. And while the CDC has already dispelled that myth, this new study looked specifically at the combination MMRV vaccine. 

Researchers found that there were no increased risks on any of the seven safety considerations (anaphylaxis, ITP, ataxia, arthritis, meningitis/encephalitis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis,  Kawasaki disease, seizure, and fevers) with the combined chickenpox and MMR vaccine.


It's also worth understanding that vaccine safety is a top priority to both our governing health agencies and those who manufacture vaccines. The CDC encourages anyone--health professionals and parents alike--to report any suspected side effect from a vaccine. Of the current annual 30,000 adverse reported side effects reported each year, a little under 4,000 vaccine adverse effects are classified as "serious, resulting in permanent disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illnesses or death," according to the Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System. Those numbers include reports that are filed for all vaccines and for all ages, but it's important to understand the organization also notes that over 10 million vaccines are given every year to infants under one year of age. 

Those numbers alone speak for themselves and that vaccine safety is a top priority, especially for infants. 


Klein, N.P et al. (Feb. 2015). Safety of Measles-Containing Vaccines in 1-Year-Old Children. Pediatrics. Abstract accessed online February 18, 2015: 

Vaccines: Vac-Gen/Side Effects. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed February 18,2015: 

Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System, About Us Page. Accessed February 18, 2015: 

Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System, Data Page. Accessed February 18, 2015: 

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