What is mumps?

Mumps is a viral infection that is caused by the mumps virus. It is a contagious disease that can cause swelling and pain to the salivary glands.

There are two vaccines available in British Columbia that provide protection against mumps. The Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine and the Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella (MMRV) vaccine. These are provided free as part of your child’s routine immunization schedule.

How is it spread?

Mumps is spread through respiratory fuilds, such as sneezes or coughs, or through direct contact.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of mumps may include: swelling and pain in the jaw, fever, headache, earache, sore throat and pain when you swallow or open your mouth, tiredness, with aching in the muscles and joints, poor appetite and vomiting.

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, call your doctor right away.

What can you do to protect yourself?

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. The vaccine contains weakened forms of measles, mumps and rubella viruses that do not cause disease.

The MMR vaccine is given to children as a series of 2 doses. The first dose is given at 12 months of age and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age.

The MMR vaccine is also provided free of charge to the following groups of people:

  • Infants aged 6 to 11 months who will be travelling to countries where there is measles, mumps or rebella disease, or that are known to have been in contact with someone with measles;
  • women of child-bearing age who are not immune to rebella; and
  • older children and adults who have not been immunized or do not have evidence of immunity to measles, mumps and rebella.

It is recommended that people born in 1970 or later get two doses of the vaccine.

Talk to your pharmacist to get the MMR vaccine.


Adapted from HealthLink BC and the BC Centre for Disease Control. Information available is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.