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The symptoms of Rubella are often so mild that they’re difficult to notice. When symptoms do occur, they usually develop within two to three weeks after the initial exposure to the virus. They often last about three to seven days and may include:

  • pink or red rash that begins on the face and then spreads downward to the rest of the body
  • mild fever, usually under 102°F
  • swollen and tender lymph nodes
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • inflamed or red eyes

It mainly affects children, more commonly those between 5 and 9 years old, but it can also occur in adults.

Is it serious?

Rubella is typically a mild infection that goes away within one week, even without treatment. However, it can be a serious condition in pregnant women, as it may cause congenital rubella syndrome in the foetus. Congenital rubella syndrome can disrupt the development of the baby and cause serious birth defects such as heart abnormalities, deafness, and brain damage.

How does Rubella spread?

Rubella can spread through the saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person when he or she:

  • coughs, sneezes, or talks.
  • shares items, such as cups or eating utensils, with others.
  • touches objects or surfaces with unwashed hands that are then touched by others.

People who have Rubella are most contagious from the week before the rash appears until about two weeks after the rash goes away.

The vaccine used for Rubella is the MMRV

MMRV vaccine side-effects
(Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella)

What are the risks from MMRV vaccine?

A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions.

Mild problems

  • Fever (about 1 child out of 5).
  • Mild rash (about 1 child out of 20).
  • Swelling of glands in the cheeks or neck (rare).

If these problems happen, it is usually within 5-12 days after the first dose. They happen less often after the second dose.

Moderate problems

  • Seizure caused by fever (about 1 child in 1,250 who get MMRV), usually 5-12 days after the first dose. They happen less often when MMR and varicella vaccines are given at the same visit as separate shots (about 1 child in 2,500 who get these two vaccines), and rarely after a 2nd dose of MMRV.
  • Temporary low platelet count, which can cause a bleeding disorder (about 1 child out of 40,000).

Severe problems (very rare)

Several severe problems have been reported following MMR vaccine, and might also happen after MMRV. These include severe allergic reactions (fewer than 4 per million), and problems such as:

  • Deafness.
  • Long-term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness.
  • Permanent brain damage.

MMRV or MMR vaccines should never be given to pregnant women or within 1 month of women intending to get pregnant as they are live vaccines and can be dangerous to the unborn foetus.

Is there any scientific evidence of childhood illnesses being beneficial for children?

Well-managed natural infectious diseases are beneficial for children, when infectious diseases of childhood are not mismanaged by the administration of antibiotics, or by suppressing fever. The diseases prime and mature the immune system and also represent developmental milestones.


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