Celebrating 50 Years of the Mumps Vaccine

Hilleman's daughter receives mumps vaccine This iconic photo in the history of vaccines is of Robert Weibel, MD, vaccinating Kirsten Hilleman with the mumps vaccine – which was developed by her father, Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman. Fifty years ago this spring, Dr. Hilleman started down the path of creating the vaccine using mumps virus that he isolated from his daughter, Jeryl Lynn (the older girl to the left in the photo), when she was ill with mumps at age 5.

The live, attenuated mumps vaccine used today in the United States was first licensed in 1967 and then used in the combination measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which was licensed in 1971. To celebrate this historic event in public health, The New York Times wrote a great piece on the history of what is now the MMR vaccine.

Almost 50 years ago, mumps was a disease that could leave a child deaf or otherwise permanently impaired. Thanks to Dr. Hilleman, mumps, along with measles and rubella, is now largely non-existent in the US. However, recent outbreaks of measles (and mumps in 2012) highlight the importance of making sure all children receive the MMR vaccine, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Read more about the mumps and the vaccine available to prevent it on NFID’s website and CDC’s website.

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