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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury


Karawaka Tiamana

Rubella (also called German measles) is a viral infection that spreads very easily. It usually affects young tamariki (children).

Rubella symptoms are usually mild. They include a rash, fever, swollen neck glands and sore joints.

When someone with rubella coughs, sneezes and talks, they release droplets into the air. You can catch rubella by breathing in the droplets.

Rubella is very dangerous to an unborn child. It can disrupt the development of the pēpi (baby) and cause a wide range of health problems. These can include blindness, deafness, heart defects and brain damage.

If you're planning to get pregnant, you can have a blood test to check if you are already immune to rubella.

Since the introduction of the mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccine, rubella is now rare.

Preventing rubella

Vaccination is the best way to prevent rubella. The MMR vaccine is used to prevent measles, mumps and rubella. Tamariki Children receive this vaccine at 12 months and 15 months as part of the National Immunisation Schedule.

If you're planning to get pregnant and are not immune, you can have the vaccine. After the vaccine, you'll need to wait at least four weeks before you try to get pregnant. You cannot have the vaccine if you're pregnant.

Treating rubella

Rubella usually gets better without treatment in seven to 10 days.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2022.


Page reference: 49714

Review key: HIRUB-49714