New Jersey mumps outbreak sparks false claims online

Eight cases of mumps have been reported in New Jersey. Health officials are urging New Jersey residents to look out for symptoms and to receive the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine if they are unvaccinated. In response to an article about the outbreak, some social media users are blaming immigrants for the mumps outbreak. Others are expressing concerns about vaccine safety.

Risk level: High

Recommendation: These types of posts may discourage patients in New Jersey from getting the MMR vaccine for themselves or for their children. Messaging may emphasize that experts attribute the recent mumps outbreak—as well as recent outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases, like measles—to a decline in vaccination rates, which jeopardizes herd immunity. The MMR vaccine is our best tool for preventing the spread of mumps and reducing the risk of severe illness and death. Two doses of the MMR vaccine reduce the risk of contracting mumps by 88 percent. Side effects are rare and usually mild. The CDC recommends that children receive their first dose of the MMR vaccine between the ages of 12 and 15 months and their second dose between the ages of 4 and 6 years. Unvaccinated adults born after 1957 should also receive two doses of the MMR vaccine.