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Rubella, sometimes called German measles, is a serious disease that used to be common in the United States. Thanks to the vaccine, rubella was declared eliminated from the United States in 2004 — meaning it’s no longer constantly present in this country. But, each year, a few Americans who live or travel outside of the country report getting sick from rubella.
There are 2 vaccines that can prevent rubella:
Rubella is a contagious disease caused by a virus. It can lead to serious complications, especially for unborn babies. If a pregnant woman gets rubella, she can lose her baby. Babies born to mothers who had rubella can have birth defects that last a lifetime.
Rubella is still common in other countries. People can get the disease when they travel — and spread it to people who aren’t vaccinated when they come home.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent rubella. And when enough people get vaccinated against rubella, the entire community is less likely to get it. So when you and your family get vaccinated, you help keep yourselves and your community healthy.
Rubella is a disease caused by a virus. Sometimes, rubella doesn’t cause any symptoms. When it does cause symptoms, they may include:
Most people with rubella get better in a few weeks. But sometimes, it can cause serious complications, like:
Rubella is very dangerous for unborn babies. If a woman gets rubella during pregnancy, she can lose her baby — either earlier in the pregnancy (miscarriage) or later in the pregnancy (stillbirth). Babies born to mothers with rubella can also have serious health problems that last for life. For example:
Rubella spreads through the air — like when someone who has it coughs or sneezes. Learn more about rubella.
All children need to get the rubella vaccine — and some adults may need it, too.
Children ages 1 through 6 years need to get the rubella vaccine as part of their routine vaccine schedule.
Children need 2 doses of the vaccine at the following ages:
Children ages 1 through 12 years can get the MMRV vaccine, which is a combination vaccine. The MMRV vaccine protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox. Your child’s doctor can recommend the vaccine that’s right for your child.
Adults may need to get the rubella vaccine if they didn’t get it as a child. In general, everyone age 18 and older born after 1956 who has not had rubella needs at least 1 dose of the rubella vaccine.
Talk with your doctor about how to protect your family from rubella.
You should not get the rubella vaccine if you:
Be sure to tell your doctor before getting vaccinated if you:
If you’re sick, you may need to wait until you’re feeling better to get the rubella vaccine.
Side effects are usually mild and go away in a few days. They may include:
Less common side effects of the rubella vaccine include:
Like any medicine, there's a very small chance that the rubella vaccine could cause a serious reaction. Keep in mind that getting the rubella vaccine is much safer than getting rubella. Learn more about vaccine side effects.
Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) have detailed information about recommended vaccines. Read the VISs for vaccines that protect against rubella:
Last reviewed: January 2018