Rubella is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It is also called German measles, but it is caused by a different virus than measles. Most people who get rubella usually have 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. Some people may also have a headache, pink eye, and general discomfort before the rash appears. Rubella can cause a miscarriage or serious birth defects in an unborn baby if a woman is infected while she is pregnant.
Rubella can be prevented with MMR vaccine. This protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. CDC recommends children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults also should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination.
MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. One dose of the MMR vaccine is about 97% effective at preventing rubella.
Children may also get MMRV vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox). This vaccine is only licensed for use in children who are 12 months through 12 years of age.
Before the availability of rubella vaccines in the United States, rubella was a common disease that occurred primarily among young children. The last major epidemic in the United States occurred during 1964 to 1965, when there was an estimated 12.5 million rubella cases in the United States. Because of successful vaccination programs, rubella has been eliminated from the United States since 2004. However, rubella is still common in other countries. Unvaccinated people can get rubella while abroad and bring the disease to the United States and spread it to others.
CDC recommends that children get two 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.
Teens and adults should also be up to date on MMR vaccinations.
- Page last reviewed: March 31, 2016
- Page last updated: July 11, 2016
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