Rubella (German Measles)

What is rubella?

Rubella, also known as German or three-day measles, is caused by the rubella virus.

How is rubella spread?

Rubella is spread easily through fluid droplets from the mouth, nose or eyes. A person infected with rubella can spread these droplets by coughing, sneezing, talking or sharing things by mouth such as food and drinks. A person can spread rubella to others seven days before the rash starts to seven days after the rash disappears. But you can spread rubella even if you don’t have any symptoms.

What are the symptoms of rubella?

Rubella symptoms usually last two to five days and include tiredness, mild fever, and swollen glands (lymph nodes) especially behind the ears and at the back of the head. Teens and adults may have muscle and joint pain. People infected with rubella my also get a red pinpoint rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. About half of all people infected with rubella do not get a rash.

What are the risks of rubella?

The rubella virus usually causes only mild disease. But rubella infection during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and severe birth defects such as hearing loss, eye problems, heart problems and damage to other organs such as the brain. This is called Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS). CRS occurs in 9 out of 10 babies born to women who have rubella in the first three months of pregnancy.

How can I prevent getting rubella?

The best way to not get rubella is to get the measles mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Rubella is combined with measles and mumps to give protection against three diseases with one shot. The MMR vaccine is safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get rubella. When you get immunized you help protect others as well.

Who should get the MMR vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is free and is given to children as a series of two doses. The first dose is given at 12 months of age; a second dose is given starting at four years of age. Older children and adults can receive the vaccine if they have not been immunized and have no history of disease. The MMR is not safe to be given during pregnancy.

Learn more  about who should get the MMR vaccine.

Get immunized against rubella by making an appointment with your doctor, pharmacist (for those 5 years and older) or Public Health.

To book an immunization appointment with Public Health:

Residents of Fraser East (Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope), call 604-702-4906

Residents in any other area of Fraser Health, call 604-476-7087 


For more information about rubella and the MMR vaccine, go to:


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