Has your child received the mumps vaccine?

The list of vaccines a child has to get may seem endless and hard to stay on top of. However, one that parents should ensure that their baby receives is the vaccination for mumps.

During baby development, children are more susceptible to infections because their immune systems are relatively weak. In particular, mumps is a very contagious virus and can cause severe complications.

Although the disease is no longer common in the country due to vaccine availability, parents should still be aware of the symptoms just in case their child is not immunized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are around 300 cases of mumps in the U.S. every year.

What you should look for
Mumps generally looks like the common cold when its symptoms first set in. However, as it progresses, a patient may develop swelling of his or her salivary glands, causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. Parents who notice these advanced symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and get their child evaluated as soon as possible.

There is no antiviral medication to treat mumps, and affected patients are at risk of more severe conditions, such as meningitis, encephalitis and loss of hearing. Clinicians focus on providing relief to symptoms due to a lack of curative treatments.

Check your child's medical history today
If parents are unsure whether their child received the mumps vaccine, there is an easy way to find out. Mom or dad can contact their son or daughter's pediatrician and simply ask to see if it's listed on the record.

The mumps vaccine is most commonly administered as a combination injection that immunizes a patient against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Children should receive two doses when they are between 12 and 15 months and then when they are between 4 and 6 years old. On average, the vaccination, as a whole, is 88 percent effective, the CDC reports.

Because the virus is so contagious, parents should make sure their children are vaccinated from an early age, because they never know if or when there will be an outbreak. For instance, in September, 2012, the Milwaukee Health Department reported two cases of mumps at Marquette University, local news source Journal Sentinel reported. 

The outbreak prompted health experts and school officials to encourage the immunization of any students who did not receive the vaccine as a child, as an effort to keep them healthy and contain the virus.

Have you known of anyone who contracted the mumps virus? Would you hesitate to have your child receive the MMR vaccine? Leave your answers in the comments section!