As with most viral illnesses, the best way to prevent mumps is via vaccination.
Even in developed countries, where vaccination programs are common, there are misguided and misinformed people who refuse vaccination for themselves and/or their children. To protect these foolish people, and visitors to your area from other countries who have not been vaccinated, contact should be limited until a medical diagnosis has been established excluding mumps, or until at least 4 days have passed since the symptoms subsided.
A mumps vaccine can be given, but this only protects against mumps. It is far more common for the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to be given, as this immunizes the child against all 3 diseases.
The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine prevents measles, mumps, and rubella. These three vaccines are safe given together. MMR is an attenuated (weakened) live virus vaccine, which means that after injection, the viruses grow and cause a harmless version of the infection in the vaccinated person with no symptoms or very mild symptoms. After the vaccination, the person’s immune system fights the infection caused by the weakened versions of the measles-mumps-rubella viruses and life-long immunity develops.
Usually the MMR vaccine is given to children at 12 to 15 months of age. A second booster vaccination with MMR is often given between the ages of 4 and 12.
More than 95% of people who receive a single dose of MMR will achieve life-long immunity to all three diseases. The second vaccination with MMR confers life-long immunity to those who did not fully respond to the first vaccination.
A benefit of having suffered mumps is life-long immunity, and the MMR vaccine has a similar effect. If the worldwide uptake of any vaccine is high enough, the actual disease can be eradicated, as is the case with smallpox.
As with all immunization schedules, there are important exceptions and special circumstances. Consult your doctor for the latest information.