A new children’s vaccine protects against four diseases in a single shot.

The vaccine, called ProQuad, takes the popular MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella) one step further by adding a vaccine for chickenpox, making it the first vaccine to offer protection from four diseases in one shot.

The FDA has approved the ProQuad vaccine for children from 12 months to 12 years of age. It is also approved for use in children in this age group who require a second dose of MMR vaccine.

“Until now a young child had to undergo two separate vaccinations against these diseases,” says Henry Shinefield, MD, professor of pediatrics and dermatology at the University of California School of Medicine at San Francisco, who helped develop the vaccine, in a news release.

“By allowing vaccination against chickenpox to occur simultaneously with vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella, ProQuad can help increase the number of children vaccinated against chicken pox at the earliest recommended time -- upon a baby’s first birthday.”

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By Jennifer Warner, reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

SOURCES: FDA. News release, Merck & Co.