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Rubella & Rubella Vaccine Quick Facts


Rubella

Rubella & Rubella Vaccine Quick Facts 

Rubella

  • Rubella, commonly referred to as “German measles” or “three-day measles”, is a mild viral infection that primarily occurs in childhood but can also affect adults.  Rubella symptoms may begin with a mild fever, runny nose, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and progress to a pink rash that starts on the face and spreads to the neck, arms, chest and sometimes the legs, disappearing as it moves downward on the body. The rash is not as red or blotchy as measles and generally fades by the third to fifth day. About 25 to 50 percent of rubella infections are asymptomatic;1 2
  • Young adults, especially young women, who are infected with rubella may have swollen glands in the back of the neck and joint pain, swelling and stiffness (arthritis) that lasts for several weeks. Rarely, more serious complications of rubella, including brain inflammation and chronic arthritis, may occur;3
  • Rubella is a respiratory infection that is spread from person-to-person through coughing and sneezing.4 The virus can be found in an infected person’s throat, nose, urine, cerebral spinal fluid and blood;5 
  • Incubation period from exposure to symptoms is 12 to 23 days.6 Recovery from rubella usually confers lifelong immunity, although there are rare reports of repeat cases;7  
  • While rubella is mildly contagious and usually not a serious infection, a pregnant woman infected with rubella during the first three months of pregnancy has a greater chance of miscarriage and of giving birth to a baby with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) and birth defects. Infants born with CRS can suffer from deafness, blindness, heart defects, developmental delay, small head size and other serious health problems;8 

Rubella Vaccine

  • There are two rubella vaccines currently in use in the United States - MMRII - a combination measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) live virus vaccine9 and ProQuad- a combination measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMR-V) live virus vaccine.10 Both MMRII and ProQuad are manufactured and distributed by Merck. The CDC recommends children receive the first dose of MMR vaccine between 12 and 15 months, and the second dose between four and six years.
  • Mild side effects such as redness, rash or pain at the injection site, along with fever and swelling of the glands in the neck or cheeks have been reported following MMR and MMR-V vaccination.11 12
  • More serious side effects following vaccination include shock, encephalitis, convulsions (seizures), encephalopathy, thrombocytopenia purpura, arthritis, optic neuritis, lupus, Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), aseptic meningitis, deafness, gastrointestinal disorder, cardiomyopathy, transverse myelitis, and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis;13 14
  • As of April 1, 2021, there have been 1,342 claims filed in the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) for injuries and deaths following rubella (MMR, MMR-V, Mumps-Rubella, Rubella) vaccination, including 68 deaths and 1,274 serious injuries.
  • Using the MedAlerts search engine, as of February 28, 2021, there have been more than 101,073 reports of rubella vaccine (MMR, MMR-V, Mumps-Rubella, Rubella) reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following rubella vaccinations made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), including 457 related deaths, 7,570 hospitalizations, and 2,008 related disabilities. Nearly 66 percent of rubella vaccine-related adverse events occurred in children six years old and under.

Food & Drug Administration (FDA) 

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Vaccine Reaction Symptoms & Ingredients

Our Ask 8, If You Vaccinate webpage contains vaccine reaction symptoms and more. 

Search for Vaccine Reactions

NVIC hosts MedAlerts, a powerful VAERS database search engine. MedAlerts examines symptoms, reactions, vaccines, dates, places, and more.

Reporting a Vaccine Reaction

Since 1982 NVIC has operated a Vaccine Reaction Registry, which has served as a watchdog on VAERS. Reporting vaccine reactions to VAERS is the law. If your doctor will not report a reaction, you have the right to report a suspected vaccine reaction to VAERS.

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Rubella and the Rubella vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

« Return to Vaccines & Diseases Table of Contents

References

1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Signs and Symptoms. In: Rubella (German Measles, Three-Day Measles). Dec. 31, 2020.

2 Communication and Education Branch, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Rubella. In: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 13th ed. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 2015; p. 325-326. Updated December 2020. Accessed April 3, 2021.

3 Communication and Education Branch, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Rubella. In: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 13th ed. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 2015; p. 326. Updated December 2020. Accessed April 3, 2021.

4 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Transmission. In: Rubella (German Measles, Three-Day Measles). Dec. 31, 2020.

5 Communication and Education Branch, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Rubella. In: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 13th ed. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 2015; p. 326-327. Updated December 2020. Accessed April 3, 2021.

6  Communication and Education Branch, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Rubella. In: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 13th ed. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 2015; p. 325-326. Updated December 2020. Accessed April 3, 2021.

7 Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals.1.7 Infection, immune response and laboratory diagnosis of rubella and CRS. In: Manual for the Laboratory-based Surveillance of Measles, Rubella, and Congenital Rubella Syndrome. World Health Organization (WHO). Third edition, June 2018.

8 National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) Rubella, Congenital In: Rare Disease Database. 2004. Accessed April 3, 2021.

9 Merck, Sharp & Dohme Corp. Measles, Mumps and Rubella Virus Vaccine, Live Package Insert. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dec. 14, 2020.

10 Merck, Sharp & Dohme Corp. Package Insert - Refrigerator-Stable Formulation - ProQuad. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Sept. 17, 2020.

11 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MMR (Measles, Mumps, & Rubella) VIS. In: Vaccine Information Statements (VISs). Aug. 15, 2019.

12 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MMRV (Measles, Mumps, Rubella & Varicella) VIS. In: Vaccine Information Statements (VISs). Aug. 15, 2019.

13 Merck, Sharp & Dohme Corp. Measles, Mumps and Rubella Virus Vaccine, Live Package Insert. U.S. Food and Drug Administration Dec. 14, 2020.

14 Merck, Sharp & Dohme Corp. Package Insert - Refrigerator-Stable Formulation - ProQuad. U.S. Food and Drug Administration Sept. 17, 2020.


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