Rubella, sometimes called German measles or three-day measles, is a contagious disease caused by a virus. The infection is usually mild with fever and rash.
Rubella usually causes the following symptoms in children:
- Rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body
- Low fever (less than 101 degrees)
These symptoms last 2 or 3 days.
Older children and adults may also have swollen glands and symptoms like a cold before the rash appears. Aching joints occur in many cases, especially among young women.
About half of the people who get rubella do not have symptoms.
Birth defects if acquired by a pregnant woman: deafness, cataracts, heart defects, mental retardation, and liver and spleen damage (at least a 20% chance of damage to the fetus if a woman is infected early in pregnancy)
Spread by contact with an infected person, through coughing and sneezing
Rubella vaccine (contained in MMR vaccine) can prevent this disease.
Does my child need this vaccine?
Children should get 2 doses of MMR vaccine:
- The first dose at 12-15 months of age
- The second dose at 4-6 years of age
These are the recommended ages. But children can get the second dose at any age, as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.
As an adult, do I need this vaccine?
You do NOT need the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR) if:
- You had blood tests that show you are immune to measles, mumps, and rubella.
- You are a man born before 1957.
- You are a woman born before 1957 who is sure she is not having more children, has already had rubella vaccine, or has had a positive rubella test.
- You already had two doses of MMR or one dose of MMR plus a second dose of measles vaccine.
- You already had one dose of MMR and are not at high risk of measles or mumps exposure.
You SHOULD get the MMR vaccine if you are not among the categories listed above, and
- You are a college student, trade school student, or other student beyond high school.
- You work in a hospital or other medical facility*
- You travel internationally, or are a passenger on a cruise ship.
- You are a woman of childbearing age.
For additional details and for list of people who should NOT get the MMR vaccine, consult the MMR Vaccine Information Statement. Additional details can be found in the footnotes of the Adult Immunization Schedule.
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