The following adverse reactions are listed in decreasing order of severity, without regard to causality, within each body system category and have been reported during clinical trials, with use of the marketed vaccine, or with use of polyvalent vaccine containing measles:
Body as a Whole
Panniculitis; atypical measles; fever; syncope; headache; dizziness; malaise; irritability.
Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea.
Hemic and Lymphatic System
Thrombocytopenia (see WARNINGS, Thrombocytopenia); purpura; lymphadenopathy; leukocytosis.
Anaphylaxis and anaphylactoid reactions have been reported as well as related phenomena such as angioneurotic edema (including peripheral or facial edema) and bronchial spasm in individuals with or without an allergic history.
Encephalitis; encephalopathy; measles inclusion body encephalitis (MIBE) (see CONTRAINDICATIONS); subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE); Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS); febrile convulsions; afebrile convulsions or seizures; ataxia; ocular palsies.
Experience from more than 80 million doses of all live measles vaccines given in the U.S. through 1975 indicates that significant central nervous system reactions such as encephalitis and encephalopathy, occurring within 30 days after vaccination, have been temporally associated with measles vaccine very rarely.28 In no case has it been shown that reactions were actually caused by vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pointed out that “a certain number of cases of encephalitis may be expected to occur in a large childhood population in a defined period of time even when no vaccines are administered”.29 However, the data suggest the possibility that some of these cases may have been caused by measles vaccines. The risk of such serious neurological disorders following live measles virus vaccine administration remains far less than that for encephalitis and encephalopathy with natural measles (one per two thousand reported cases).30
Post-marketing surveillance of the more than 200 million doses of M-M-R and M-M-R II that have been distributed worldwide over 25 years (1971-1996) indicates that serious adverse events such as encephalitis and encephalopathy continue to be rarely reported.10
There have been reports of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) in children who did not have a history of natural measles but did receive measles vaccine. Some of these cases may have resulted from unrecognized measles in the first year of life or possibly from the measles vaccination. Based on estimated nationwide measles vaccine distribution, the association of SSPE cases to measles vaccination is about one case per million vaccine doses distributed. This is far less than the association with natural measles, 6-22 cases of SSPE per million cases of measles. The results of a retrospective case-controlled study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that the overall effect of measles vaccine has been to protect against SSPE by preventing measles with its inherent higher risk of SSPE.31
Pneumonitis (see CONTRAINDICATIONS); cough; rhinitis.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome; erythema multiforme; urticaria; rash.
Local reactions including burning/stinging at injection site; wheal and flare; redness (erythema); swelling; vesiculation at injection site.
Special Senses — Ear
Nerve deafness; otitis media.
Special Senses — Eye
Retinitis; optic neuritis; papillitis; retrobulbar neuritis; conjunctivitis.
Death from various, and in some cases unknown, causes has been reported rarely following vaccination with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines; however, a causal relationship has not been established. No deaths or permanent sequelae were reported in a published post-marketing surveillance study in Finland involving 1.5 million children and adults who were vaccinated with M-M-R II during 1982-1993.32
Under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, health care providers and manufacturers are required to record and report certain suspected adverse events occurring within specific time periods after vaccination. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has established a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) which will accept all reports of suspected events.28 A VAERS report form as well as information regarding reporting requirements can be obtained by calling VAERS 1-800-822-7967.