Measles and Rubella Initiative Fact Sheet

The Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI) is working with countries, partners and
parents to create a world free from measles and rubella.

A girl chasing flying red spots with a net
  • Measles kills more than 568 people a day, mostly children.
  • In 2019, measles infected more than 9 million people.1
  • 93 countries have eliminated rubella transmission and sustained the achievement.2


  • Over 207,500 people lost their lives to measles in 2019, most were children.1
  • Measles causes a rash, trouble breathing and flu- like symptoms. It may also cause more serious complications like severe diarrhea, dehydration, pneumonia, brain damage or even death.
  • Measles infection leads to loss of immunity to other deadly diseases.
  • 1 person with measles can infect 12-18 people, making it the most infectious —yet vaccine preventable —disease.
  • 9 out of 10 susceptible people (unvaccinated/have not had measles) who are exposed to measles will get sick.
  • A safe and affordable vaccine has prevented measles for over 50 years.

Rubella (German Measles)

  • Rubella is a leading cause of preventable birth defects, caused by a viral infection during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
  • A woman infected with rubella in early pregnancy can suffer a miscarriage or has up to a 90 per cent chance of giving birth to a baby with Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS).

Babies born with CRS may have multiple birth defects, including heart disorders, blindness, deafness or brain damage.

#VACCINESWORK to Protect Against Measles and Rubella

  • The Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI) is working with countries, partners, parents and caregivers to create a world free from measles and rubella.
  • We are committed to eliminating measles and rubella in every region of the world, even as we combat the COVID-19 pandemic and work to minimize its impact.
  • M&RI efforts are saving millions of lives each year by protecting children and families from serious, yet preventable, diseases.
Young boy playing hoop and stick alongside rolling red spots
  • 5.5 billion doses of measles vaccine have been delivered to children since 2000.
  • Measles vaccines have saved more than 31 million lives since 2000.
  • Two recommended doses of measles and rubella vaccine cost less than $2 per child.
  • Vaccinating against measles and rubella produces huge rewards; every $1 invested in the measles vaccine yields a $58 return!

Measles Moves Fast, We Must Move Faster!

  • Many measles and rubella vaccination campaigns scheduled in 2020 were interrupted or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • As of November 2021, over 91.1 million people in 18 countries are at risk of missing out on measles vaccine due to paused campaigns to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
  • Many of these children live in countries with ongoing measles outbreaks.
  • Measles cases skyrocketed from 2017 to 2019 with outbreaks happening in 7 measles-free countries.3
  • To win the fight against measles and rubella, we must reach every child with 2 doses of measles and rubella vaccine and respond quickly to outbreaks wherever they occur.

Reaching a world without measles and rubella requires political and financial commitment from every country to ensure high quality vaccines reach every child.

About the Measles & Rubella Initiative
Partnership for Global Health

As a founding member of the Measles and Rubella Initiative (M&RI), launched in 2001, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides both scientific and technical support to partners and countries to reduce measles and rubella-associated deaths, disease, and disabilities. In addition to the CDC, key partners include:

Page last reviewed: November 5, 2021
Content source: Global Immunization