Rubella vaccine

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What is rubella and what it causes

Rubella is caused by a virus that is transmitted by air through the droplets of saliva and sneezing. It causes mild fever, swollen glands in the neck, and a generalized, short-lived rash that often goes unnoticed.


Rubella in children: photos to recognize it

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Rubella is a viral infectious disease with a measles-like rash. It consists of pink, flat spots, which usually cover the whole body the first ...

The disease causes joint pain, thrombocytopenia (bleeding disorders) in one case out of 3, and encephalitis in one case out of 5. Acute arthritis can develop in adolescents and adults. The disease is fatal in one in 30 cases.

If rubella affects a pregnant woman, it causes congenital rubella syndrome, which induces deafness, blindness, mental retardation and congenital malformations of the heart, liver and spleen in the fetus, with impaired coagulation. If this happens in the first trimester, 85 percent of cases will have a miscarriage or the fetus will be affected by the syndrome.

Prior to the introduction of the vaccine, rubella outbreaks were common and the number of infected pregnant women was also high. For this reason, the vaccine was initially introduced to females and administered at 12 years of age. Today it is administered together with that for measles and mumps to both sexes and consists of live attenuated viruses, that is, rendered incapable of transmitting the disease while remaining active against the immune system.

From 2022 rubella vaccine is one of them required by law for children and teenagers from 0 to 16 years. Read also: Compulsory and voluntary vaccinations, the calendar

When to get the vaccine and contraindications

Vaccination is now available from 12 months of age but it can also be administered to non-immune adults and especially to all women of childbearing age who are not sure whether they are immune (rubella is usually screened from the first blood tests in case of pregnancy).

People with allergy to the components of the vaccine cannot be vaccinated o people with changes in the immune system due to diseases or treatments (chemotherapy, cortisone, immunosuppressants).

Egg allergy, once considered a contraindication, is no longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics has carried out studies that have shown that the use of embryonated chicken eggs for the production of vaccines does not make them dangerous for sensitive people. These indications have also been acknowledged by the Ministry of Health which has established the obligation to vaccinate even allergic children without carrying out desensitization procedures.

Vaccination should be postponed in case of severe or moderate acute illness, ongoing or intended pregnancy, people who have had transfusions or received antibodies in the immediately preceding months.

Two doses of combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine are given: the first between 12 and 15 months, the second around six years. The effectiveness of the vaccine is close to 100% and immunity is permanent.

The side effects

In 80% of cases side effects do not occur, Usually there may be redness and swelling at the injection site, mild rash, fever and swollen lymph nodes, as well as temporary swelling of the joints.


In 10% of the vaccinated there is a fever above 38,5 ° C 5-12 days after administration, due to the replication of viruses in the organism of those who have been vaccinated. The second dose has fewer side effects than the first. If the fever exceeds two days it is good to call the doctor to rule out that there is another infection in progress.


Febrile convulsions occur in three out of 10 thousand cases and in three out of 100 thousand cases a reduction in blood platelets (thrombocytopenia) which causes coagulation defects and small bleeding. In adult women, joint pain occurs in one in four women (just as joint pain is very common in women affected by the disease).


Sources: The information on the efficacy and indications of the vaccines, and the epidemiological data contained in the information sheets on the individual vaccines are based on official documents of the Higher Institute of Health and of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta (USA)




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Read also: vaccines and children, guide from A to Z

Updated on 10.04.2022

  • vaccinations for children
  • rubella
  • first year
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