Vaccines to Prevent Rubella: MMR and MMRV

Rubella, also known as German measles or three-day measles is an infectious disease caused by a virus. It is not the same disease as measles.

Updated: December 13, 2017

It is important that children, especially infants and young children, receive recommended immunizations on time.  Vaccines also protect teenagers and adults to keep them healthy throughout their lives.
Rubella, also known as German measles or three-day measles is an infectious disease caused by a virus. It is not the same disease as measles. Young children who get rubella usually have a 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. Older children and adults are more likely to have a headache, pink eye, and general discomfort before the rash appears.
Young women can have aching joints in many cases. Rubella infection can cause harm to unborn baby which could be a major complication in later stage of pregnancy. If a pregnant woman gets infected with rubella virus who is not vaccinated, it can lead to miscarriage, or death of her baby before or just after birth. There is a possibility of passing the virus to her unborn baby which can lead to serious birth defects such as heart problems, loss of hearing and eyesight, intellectual disability, and liver or spleen damage. Serious birth defects are more common if a woman is infected early in her pregnancy, especially in the first 12 weeks.
Anyone who is not immune from either previous rubella infection or from vaccination can get rubella. Rubella is a contagious disease that is caused by a virus and is usually spread to others through sneezing or coughing. But it can be prevented with vaccination.

Rubella Vaccine:

There are two types of rubella vaccine available. These are:
  • MMR which contains measles, mumps, and rubella combination vaccines
  • MMRV which contains easles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox) combination vaccines
Children should receive two doses of MMR vaccine. The first should be given 12 through 15 months where as the second dose should be given 4 through 6 years.
MMRV vaccine is licensed for children of age 12 months to 12 years old and may be used in place of MMR vaccine if varicella vaccination is also required. If a child has a severe reaction to varicella vaccination, MMR can be used instead of MMRV. A health care provider can help decide which vaccine to use.
MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. MMR vaccine is the best way to protect children against rubella and to prevent them from spreading the disease to others.
For adults, anyone born during or after 1957, who has never had rubella or has never been vaccinated, is at risk for rubella. They should get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine.
Women who are planning to become pregnant should make sure they are protected against rubella before they get pregnant. If they need to get vaccinated for rubella, they should avoid pregnancy until one month after receiving the MMR vaccine. Pregnant women who are not protected against rubella should wait until after they have given birth to the baby to get MMR vaccine.

Problems that could happen after any vaccine:

  • Sometimes people faint after vaccination. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes can help prevent fainting. If you feel dizzy, have vision changes or ringing in the ears, speak to your doctor.
  • In some cases severe pain in the shoulder and difficulty moving the arm where a shot was given could happen.
  • A severe allergic reaction would happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
  • There is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death. The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. You can get all the information from Vaccine Safety site.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination. If you have severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or behavior changes , call 9-1-1 or find the nearest hospital.
The reaction should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) through the VAERS website or by calling 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions. They do not give medical advice.
If you are injured by a vaccine, you can file a claim in  National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the VICP website to get the compensation.

Learn more about Vaccine:

Your doctor can give you the vaccine package insert or suggest other sources of information.
You can call your local or state health department or can contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by:
        Calling 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO)
        Visiting  CDC vaccines website


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