• Rubella Vaccine

    (German Measles Vaccine; MMR Vaccine-Rubella)

    What Is Rubella?

    Rubella is an illness caused by a virus. The virus can result in a rash, mild fever, or arthritis . Pregnant women who have rubella are at increased risk for miscarriage . Their babies may be born with severe birth defects, including:
    Rubella is passed from person to person through droplets in the air.
    Symptoms include:
    • Fatigue
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Flushed face
    • Red throat (although not sore)
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Achy joints and arthritis (especially in adults)
    • Red, spotty rash all over the body
    Rash and fever generally last for 2-3 days.
    There is no treatment for rubella. Taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) can ease discomfort.

    What Is the Rubella Vaccine?

    Although rubella is available as a single vaccine, it is normally given in combination with:

    Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?

    All children (with few exceptions) should receive the vaccine two times:
    • 12-15 months
    • 4-6 years (school entry)—can be given earlier, but the two doses must be separated by at least four weeks
    The vaccine can also be given to infants aged 6-11 months who will be traveling internationally. These infants should also get the two routine shots at ages 12-15 months and 4-6 years.
    For those 18 years of age or younger who have not been vaccinated, two doses of MMR are given. The doses are separated by four weeks.
    Adults born after 1957 who have not been previously vaccinated may need 1-2 doses. Talk with your doctor if you were not previously vaccinated.

    What Are the Risks Associated With the Rubella Vaccine?

    Like any vaccine, the MMR vaccine could cause serious problems, such as a severe allergic reaction. While most people do not experience any problems, some have reported:
      Mild problems:
      • Fever
      • Mild rash
      • Swelling of the glands in the cheeks or neck
      Moderate problems:
      • Seizure caused by fever
      • Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints
      • Low platelet count
      Very rare:
      • Serious allergic reaction
      • Deafness
      • Long-term seizures
      • Coma
      • Lowered consciousness
      • Permanent brain damage

    Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?

    You should not get the vaccine if you have the following conditions:
    • Have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin , or a previous dose of MMR vaccine
    • Are moderately or severely ill—Wait until you recover.
    • Are pregnant—Wait until after you give birth. If you are trying to become pregnant, wait four weeks after getting the vaccine.
    Talk with your doctor before getting the MMR vaccine if you:
    • Have a condition that affects the immune system (eg, HIV/AIDS )
    • Are being treated with drugs that affect the immune system (eg, long-term steroids)
    • Have cancer or are being treated for cancer
    • Have ever had a low blood platelet count
    • Have had a blood transfusion

    What Other Ways Can Rubella Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?

    Widespread vaccination has resulted in rubella's virtual elimination in the US. It is important to avoid contact with people who may have been exposed to the disease in order to prevent it.

    What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?

    A case of rubella needs to be reported to public health authorities. If you think you or your child has rubella, call the doctor right away.
    Anyone who may have been exposed and has not been fully immunized will need to receive the vaccine.


    Immunization InitiativesAmerican Academy of Pediatrics http://www.cispimmunize.org/

    National Immunization ProgramCenters for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/


    Measles, mumps, and rubella: vaccine use and strategies for elimination of measles, rubella, and congenital rubella syndrome and control of mumps: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MMWR website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00053391.htm . Published 22, 1998. Accessed February 17, 2012.

    Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-6 years—United States, 2012. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/downloads/child/0-6yrs-schedule-pr.pdf . Published December 23, 2011. Accessed February 16, 2012.

    Rubella. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/rubella/default.htm . Accessed January 31, 2007.

    Rubella disease in-short (German measles). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/diseases/rubella/vac-chart.htm . Accessed January 31, 2007.

    Rubella (German measles). Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/skin/german%5Fmeasles.html . Accessed January 31, 2007.

    1/31/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0-18 years—United States, 2008. MMWR. 2008;57;Q1-Q4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MMWR website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5701a8.htm . Updated January 10, 2008. Accessed January 28, 2008.

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