Per Wikipedia:  “Mumps is a viral disease caused by the mumps virus. Initial signs and symptoms often include fever, muscle pain, headache, poor appetite, and feeling tired. This is then usually followed by painful swelling of one or both parotid salivary glands. Symptoms typically occur 16 to 18 days after exposure and resolve after seven to ten days. Symptoms in adults are often more severe than in children. About a third of people have mild or no symptoms. Complications may include meningitis (15 percent), pancreatitis (four percent), inflammation of the heart, permanent deafness, and testicular inflammation which uncommonly results in infertility. Women may develop ovarian swelling but this does not increase the risk of infertility.

“Mumps is highly contagious and spreads rapidly among people living in close quarters. The virus is transmitted by respiratory droplets or direct contact with an infected person. Only humans get and spread the disease. People are infectious to each other from about seven days before the start of symptoms to about eight days after. Once an infection has run its course, a person is typically immune for life. Reinfection is possible but the ensuing infection tends to be mild. Diagnosis is usually suspected due to parotid swelling and can be confirmed by isolating the virus on a swab of the parotid duct. Testing for IgM antibodies in the blood is simple and may be useful; however, it can be falsely negative in those who have been immunized.”

Examine this graph closely, and note that while death rates for the blue line (mumps-related) are scaled to deaths per 10,000,000 people, the other rates of death are scaled to deaths per 175 infants.  Also note that the mumps vaccine became available in 1967.  While Wikipedia reports that approximately 1 in 10,000 people that are infected die, they also note that without vaccination approximately 0.1% of the population would contract mumps in any given year, placing a combined risk of death at 1 in 10,000,000.  To put this into perspective, you have a 14 times greater chance of being hit by lightning.  According to the CDC, there were between 20 and 25 deaths in the US from mumps each year during the decade prior to 1967.

Rates of more serious complications from mumps are higher than many other diseases we vaccinate for, but these complications are typically seen in adolescents and adults.  In children, mumps is typically a harmless nuisance disease, but by the time vaccination wears off, the risk of serious complications such as meningitis, encephalitis, or testicular involvement that could lead to infertility dramatically increase.

Vaccine Statistics

When debating informed consent, it is important that people calculate the risk versus the reward for all options.  Here are some facts, according to VAERS and the CDC.

  • Since 2000, there have been no deaths from mumps in the US.
  • Since 2000, there have been at least 123 deaths reported to VAERS associated with the mumps vaccine.
  • Since 2000, there have been 58,284 adverse events reported to VAERS, with the vast majority of them falling between the ages of 1-5 years.

With no other data, it is clear that children face a greater risk of death from the mumps vaccine than they do from mumps itself, if it is assumed that the child is considered in isolation.  When the bigger picture is looked at, the numbers get fuzzier.  Since 2000, there have been an average of 3.8 million live births in the US annually.  With 92% vaccination rates across the country, this equates to approximately 3.5 million children being vaccinated per year, leaving the odds of death at approximately 1 in 550,000 from receiving the mumps vaccine.  If the FDA’s assessment of reporting compliance is correct (<1%), these odds could be as low as 1 in 5500, making it far more risky to get the vaccine than the disease.  Indeed, with today’s mortality rates from mumps, children are infinitely more likely to die from receiving an MMR vaccine than they are to die from contracting mumps.  The problem with this calculation, however, is that we simply do not know the true number of deaths attributable to the mumps vaccine due to our faulty reporting system.  Other statistics (based on estimated numbers of doses administered per the above calculation) reported since 2000 (rate reported/rate possible per FDA):

  • 665 immediately life threatening complications (1 in 102,000/1 in 1020)
  • 643 permanent disabilities (1 in 107,000/1 in 1060)
  • 2382 hospitalizations or extensions of hospitalization (1 in 29000/1 in 290)
  • 20,597 emergency room or office visits related to complications (1 in 3300/1 in 33)

 Some of the possible rates per the FDA are too chilling to want to believe, and to be perfectly honest, we are skeptical of them.  This is the greatest problem with estimating risk versus reward when real numbers are deliberately obscured.

According to the CDC, “[t]wo doses of mumps vaccine are 88% (range 31% to 95%) effective at preventing the disease; one dose is 78% (range 49% to 91%) effective”.  Despite being subjected to the risks described above, and using the CDC’s statistics, 1-2 of every 10 children vaccinated will not receive the benefit of 12+ years of immunity, and all will be at dramatically greater risk for serious complications if they contract mumps later in life.

Vaccine Safety

Vaccine Typelive attenuated/potential vector of transmission*

Pregnancy ClassC

This section will reference the product insert from Merck’s MMR II vaccine.  It should be noted that mumps vaccines (all types) are one of the few vaccines on the market that doesn’t use aluminum adjuvants.

Contraindications (do not vaccinate):

  • Hypersensitivity to eggs, beef, gelatin, or neomycin
  • Fever
  • Immunosuppressed (steroids, etc.) or immunocompromised
  • Pregnant, or may become pregnant within 3 months
  • History of brain injury or family history of convulsions
  • Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
  • Reaction to previous administration of MMR

Adverse Reactions (as reported by Merck):

  • Panniculitis, atypical measles, fever, syncope, headache, dizziness, malaise, irritability, vasculitis, pancreatitis, diarrhea, vomiting, parotitis, nausea, diabetes mellitus, thrombocytopenia, purpura, regional lymphadenopathy, anaphylaxis, bronchospasm,  arthritis, arthralgia, myalgia, polyneuritis, encephalitis, encephalopathy, measles inclusion body encephalitis, subacute sclerosing panecephalitis, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, transverse myelitis, febrile convulsions, afebrile convulsions/seizures, ataxia, polyneuropathy, ocular palsies, paresthesia, aseptic meningitis, pneumonia, pneumonitis, sore throat, cough, rhinitis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, erythema multiforme, urticaria, rash, pruritis, burning/stinging at injection site, Henoch-Schönlein purpura, acute hemorrhagic edema of infancy, nerve deafness, otitis media, retinitis, optic neuritis, papillitis, retrobulbar neuritis, conjunctivitis, epididymitis, orchitis, and death.



Editor’s Opinion

In the US, with current vaccination rates, assuming lifetime coverage per vaccinated individual (an absurd proposition for this particular disease that not even the CDC stands behind), and assuming that >70% of individuals with reported mumps are vaccinated (the typical figure in recent US outbreaks), an individual has a 1 in 2200 chance of contracting mumps in any given year.  Even using the most favorable statistics, this is a small chance of infection.  Using the worst-case statistics from Wikipedia listed above, this means that an individual has a 1 in 36,000 chance of suffering a serious complication of mumps, and (at a death rate of 1 in 10,000, which is not demonstrated in recent mortality statistics in the western world) a 1 in 55,000,000 chance of dying from mumps in any given year.  Given how the CDC estimates that >60% of all cases of mumps are in vaccinated parties, even with full vaccination the greatest portion of this risk profile would still exist.  Futhermore, this also means that in the US, you are 3 times more likely to die from a vending machine falling on you and 75 times more likely to die falling out of bed in any given year.  Even ignoring the hundreds of thousands of reports from parents who claim their child regressed into autism after receiving the MMR vaccine, given the risks posed by the vaccine, we do not recommend that anyone administer the mumps vaccine to their child in today’s society.