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Rubella: Make Sure Your Child Gets Vaccinated

Young girl kissing pregnant mother's bellyRubella is a contagious disease caused by a virus. For some people—especially pregnant women and their unborn babies—rubella can be serious. Make sure you and your child are protected from rubella by getting vaccinated on schedule.

Young children who get rubella usually have a mild illness, with symptoms that can include a low-grade fever, sore throat, and a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Older children and adults are more likely to have a headache, pink eye, and general discomfort before the rash appears.

Rubella is dangerous for pregnant women and unborn babies

The most serious complication from rubella infection is the harm it can cause a pregnant woman's unborn baby. If an unvaccinated pregnant woman gets infected with rubella virus she can have a miscarriage (the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks), or her baby can die before or just after birth. Also, she can pass the virus to her unborn baby who can develop serious birth defects such as—

  • heart problems,
  • loss of hearing and eyesight,
  • intellectual disability, and
  • liver or spleen damage.

Serious birth defects are more common if a woman is infected early in her pregnancy, especially in the first 12 weeks. In fact, women infected with rubella early in pregnancy have a 1 in 5 chance of having problems with the pregnancy.

Children should be vaccinated on schedule to protect them from rubella infection and to prevent them from spreading rubella to a pregnant woman and her unborn baby.

Protect your child, and others, with rubella vaccine

The best way to protect your child from rubella is to get him or her vaccinated on schedule. Children should be vaccinated against rubella to protect them from infection and to prevent them from spreading rubella to a pregnant woman and her unborn baby, as well those who cannot get vaccinated because they have a health condition or are too young.

Rubella vaccine is usually given as part of a combination vaccine called MMR, which protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. MMR vaccine is safe and effective and has been widely used in the United States for more than 30 years.

Children should get 2 doses of MMR vaccine:

  • the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age and
  • the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age, before entering school.

Your child's doctor may also offer the MMRV vaccine, which protects against four diseases: measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox).

Talk to your child's healthcare professional for help deciding which vaccine to use.

Planning a pregnancy? Make sure you’re protected against rubella.

If you are planning to get pregnant, make sure you are first protected against rubella, because if you are infected during pregnancy, this disease can be very dangerous to your unborn baby. If you’re unsure whether you’re immune to rubella, ask your doctor to test your blood.

Paying for rubella vaccine

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. However, you may want to check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor. Learn how to pay for vaccines.

If you don't have health insurance or if your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child, the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program may be able to help. This program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. To learn more, visit the VFC website or ask your child's doctor. You can also contact your state VFC coordinator.

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