Rubella

Pregnant woman

Rubella causes birth defects!

In most peo­ple, rubel­la virus infec­tion caus­es a mild flu-like ill­ness with rash that looks a bit like a measles rash. Rubel­la is some­times called “Ger­man measles” or “3-day measles”. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, if a wom­an catch­es rubel­la while she is preg­nant, she may mis­car­ry, or the child may be born with seri­ous birth defects, such as blind­ness, deaf­ness, or men­tal retar­da­tion. Here is a sto­ry of a young wom­an who has con­gen­i­tal rubel­la syn­drome because her moth­er caught rubel­la while car­ry­ing her:

The rubel­la vac­cine is a “live” vac­cine. As such, it has nev­er con­tained the mer­cury-con­tain­ing preser­v­a­tive thiom­er­sal. The measles vac­cine is gen­er­al­ly given in com­bi­na­tion with the vac­cine for mumps and the vac­cine for rubel­la. There is no rea­son to give the­se vac­ci­nes sep­a­rate­ly. Giv­ing the vac­ci­nes as sep­a­rate injec­tions sim­ply means more injec­tions for the child and more chance that one of the vac­ci­nes will be missed.

Because the measles virus is a “live” vac­cine, it can­not be given to some peo­ple, includ­ing chil­dren with a sup­pressed immune sys­tem. Nor can it be given to wom­en who are already preg­nant. Those indi­vid­u­als depend on the herd immu­ni­ty that results from prac­ti­cal­ly every­one else being vac­ci­nat­ed.

Once rubel­la has been wiped out through vac­ci­na­tion, we will no longer need to vac­ci­nate any­one again­st it. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it the Web site of the Measles and Rubel­la Ini­tia­tive.