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Mumps vaccine might not last forever

April 13, 2018—Mumps is making a comeback. And it's not because the disease is evolving. In fact, the resurgence of mumps among vaccinated adults is likely because the vaccine's protection wanes over time.

Researchers from Harvard discovered that protection from the mumps vaccine lasts an average of about 27 years after the last dose. So they suggest a third vaccine dose at 18 years old, and maybe even booster shots throughout adulthood.

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Keeping mumps at bay

Mumps is a contagious disease that spreads like many others, through coughing and sneezing, as well as touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands. Every year, there are hundreds or even thousands of cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And it's a serious illness. Mumps can cause deafness, meningitis, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord covering, and encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain. Another troubling complication is testicular inflammation, which can lead to infertility.

So how do you know if you have it? According to CDC, symptoms caused by mumps include:

  • Fever.
  • Swollen glands under the ears or jaw.
  • Headaches.
  • Muscle aches.

Take the next step

It pays to be aware of the risks that mumps presents to you and those you love. The best course of action is to speak to your doctor about vaccinations and boosters.

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