Navigating MMR and Chickenpox Vaccines: A Guide for Parents

February 28, 2024

Featured image for “Navigating MMR and Chickenpox Vaccines: A Guide for Parents”

As a parent, keeping your child protected against serious infectious diseases is a top priority. Two important immunizations on the routine schedule are the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella and the chickenpox vaccine safeguarding against varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection.

Deciding between administering them together as the combination MMRV shot or individually merits an informed discussion with your pediatrician.

This comprehensive guide on MMR and chickenpox vaccines covers all key areas to assist your decision-making:

  • Basics of each vaccine
  • The combination MMRV option
  • Safety considerations
  • Scheduling and timing factors
  • Overall implications of your choice

Let’s explore the foundation first.

MMR and Chickenpox Vaccines: The Building Blocks

Before analyzing the integrated MMRV vaccine, we need a quick crash course on the constituent immunizations against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella:

MMR Vaccine

The trivalent MMR vaccine contains attenuated forms of the measles, mumps, and rubella viruses to induce active immunity against these pathogens. Delivered through 2 lifetime doses, typically to toddlers, it provides long-term protection.

Chickenpox Vaccine

Also called varicella vaccine, this contains live weakened VZV. By generating antibodies against the virus that causes it, this vaccine prevents over 95% of chickenpox cases while limiting transmission of the varicella virus.

So both are highly effective live virus vaccines that essentially mimic natural infection, minus the risks of actual disease acquisition. Now onto the combo!

Understanding the Combination MMRV Vaccine

The combination quadrivalent vaccine MMRV includes immunization against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox) in one convenient single shot.

Some advantages over separate injections:

  • Fewer needles for young, anxious children
  • Potentially improved immunization coverage and compliance
  • Decreased administration costs

However, some key considerations around MMRV safety and scheduling need highlighting before deciding between it and individual vaccine components.

Weighing Safety: Individual Vaccines vs. Combined MMRV

While generally well-tolerated, as with any medication, vaccines also carry potential risks. Fortunately, significant adverse reactions are extremely rare after either MMR or chickenpox immunization. However, some side effects require consideration:

Febrile Seizures

Fever-associated seizures may arise in susceptible kids after MMR or chickenpox vaccination. Some data indicates this risk might be marginally higher following the first dose of MMRV versus when administering MMR and VZV shots separately. However, the second dose appears equivocal between regimens.

For majority children, there’s minimal difference. But those with seizure histories might benefit from fractionated vaccines under medical guidance.

Immune Compromise

Second MMRV dose is deferred for kids on immune-suppressive therapies in case of secondary viral transmission. As the MMR component is more attenuated, it poses lower shedding risk if given alone currently or later when immunocompetence recovers.

So individualized discussions evaluating overall health status, risk factors, and dosing logistics assist optimal decisions.

The CDC outlines routine childhood immunization scheduling as:

  • First MMRV dose: 12-15 months
  • Second MMRV dose: 4-6 years

However, several alternatives exist:

Option 1

Both doses as combined MMRV shots. Despite slightly higher associated seizure risk after initial dose in some predisposed children, this remains an excellent choice providing maximal coverage in one visit for most healthy kids.

Option 2

First dose MMR and chickenpox vaccine separately, then MMRV booster later. This alternative limits added febrile seizure chances initially while still eventually combining vaccines.

Option 3

Individual MMR and VZV injections for both lifetime doses. Maximizes safety for seizure-prone kids. But also means more shots overall.

In essence, work with your pediatric healthcare provider to personalize timing and dosage based on your child’s medical history and appointment logistics!

Now to crystallize understanding, let’s tackle some common parental FAQs.

FAQs on MMR, Chickenpox, and MMRV Vaccines

Can you give MMR and chickenpox vaccine together?

Yes, the MMR vaccine and varicella (chickenpox) vaccine can be administered together safely as the combination MMRV shot for children ages 12 months through 12 years. Giving these vaccines together provides protection against measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox in one shot.

Is MMR vaccine same as chicken pox?

No, the MMR vaccine only protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. It does not immunize against chickenpox (varicella). To get full protection against both sets of viruses, providers can give the combination MMRV vaccine.

How long after MMR can you get chicken pox vaccine?

The chickenpox vaccine can be given on the same day as the MMR vaccine or separated by at least 4 weeks if given individually. There is no contraindication or recommended waiting period for administering MMR and varicella vaccines together.

Why should MMR and varicella be given separately?

For children at higher risk of seizures, vaccination with separate MMR and varicella shots spaced apart may be preferred over the MMRV shot. Giving MMR and chickenpox vaccines individually lowers the risk of fever and seizures in this group.

Can varicella vaccine be given at the same time as other vaccines?

Yes. According to CDC, varicella vaccine is safe when administered simultaneously with most other childhood shots like MMR, hepatitis A, influenza etc. The exceptions are blood-products and immune globulin which may impact chickenpox vaccine efficacy if given too close together.

Main Points

  • MMRV vaccine combines MMR and varicella shots
  • Safe to co-administer MMR and varicella vaccines
  • Small seizure risk group benefits from separate shots
  • Varicella vaccine timing with other vaccines is flexible
Rate this post

Related articles


Cold Plasma System

The world's first handheld cold plasma device

Learn More

Made in USA