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Rubella, also known as 'German Measles', is generally a mild disease that causes a rash, swollen glands and joint pain.

Rubella - What is it?

Rubella (German Measles) is caused by the virus, Rubivirus. It is generally a mild contagious disease, with about half the people infected not having any obvious symptoms.

Rubella infection during pregnancy can lead to serious abnormalities in the developing baby. These can include deafness, blindness, heart defects and intellectual disabilities.

Rubella - What are the symptoms?

Rubella is generally a mild disease and usually resolves naturally. Rubella symptoms, if they do appear, generally occur 2-3 weeks after infection, and may include mild fever, swollen glands, occasionally joint pain and a red rubella rash lasting for about 3 days. Complications may occur, but are rare.

This is not a full list of symptoms that can occur following rubella infection. Please speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about rubella infection.

Rubella - How is it spread?

Rubella is spread from person to person through the air, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

People infected with rubella can spread the virus for up to 1 week before until 4 days after the rash appears.

Rubella - Who is at risk?

Since the introduction of rubella vaccination in Australia, rubella is now rare. However, anyone who is not immune to rubella is at risk of infection.

Rubella infection in pregnancy can result in fetal infection with serious consequences, so unborn babies whose mothers have no immunity are also at risk.

Other people may be at risk of rubella infection. Please speak to your doctor regarding your individual circumstances.

Rubella - Vaccination

Rubella vaccination is recommended and provided free for all children as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP). Rubella-containing vaccine is usually given at 12 and 18 months of age.

The second dose of rubella-containing vaccine was previously given at 4 years of age in combination with measles and mumps (MMR). From 1 July 2013, the schedule was changed so children now receive the second dose of measles, mumps and rubella at 18 months of age in combination with varicella (MMRV). Children who have already received their 18 month vaccination for varicella only, will continue to receive the 2nd dose of measles mumps and rubella vaccine at 4 years of age until all children have received 2 doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

Two doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine are recommended for anyone who is not immune. Anyone born during or after 1966 should have their vaccination records reviewed to ensure they have received 2 doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

If you are planning on becoming pregnant, please discuss with your doctor whether vaccination against rubella is appropriate for you.

Any female who receives rubella vaccine should wait for a period of time before becoming pregnant. Please speak to your doctor as soon as possible after receiving a rubella vaccine if you plan on becoming pregnant.

It is important to complete the recommended course of vaccinations to help protect against rubella infection and help maintain immunity.

Rubella - Treatment

There is no specific treatment for rubella. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and can include bed rest, drinking plenty of fluids, reducing fever and pain.

For information about rubella immunisation in your area, contact your State or Territory Health Department or doctor.


Some side effects may be experienced following vaccination. Please discuss any side effects or concerns with your healthcare professional.




AUS/VAC/0019/15. Date of approval: March 2015.