Rubella vaccine

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Rubella vaccine
Vaccine description
Target diseaseRubella
TypeAttenuated virus
Clinical data
Trade namesMeruvax, other
ATC code
  • none
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Rubella vaccine is a vaccine used to prevent rubella.[1] Effectiveness begins about two weeks after a single dose and around 95% of people become immune.[1] Countries with high rates of immunization no longer see cases of rubella or congenital rubella syndrome.[1] When there is a low level of childhood immunization in a population it is possible for rates of congenital rubella to increase as more women make it to child bearing age without either vaccination or exposure to the disease.[1] Therefore, it is important for more than 80% of people to be vaccinated.[1]

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that the rubella vaccine be included in routine vaccinations.[1] If not all people are immunized then at least women of childbearing age should be immunized.[1] It should not be given to those who are pregnant or those with very poor immune function.[1] While one dose is often all that is required for lifelong protection, often two doses are given.[1]

Side effects are generally mild.[1] They may include fever, rash, and pain and redness at the site of injection.[1] Joint pain may be reported at between one and three weeks following vaccination in women.[1] Severe allergies are rare.[1] The rubella vaccine is a live attenuated vaccine.[1] It is available either by itself or in combination with other vaccines.[1] Combinations include with measles (MR vaccine), measles and mumps vaccine (MMR vaccine) and measles, mumps and varicella vaccine (MMRV vaccine).[1]

A rubella vaccine was first licensed in 1969.[2] It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.[3] As of 2009 more than 130 countries included it in their routine vaccinations.[1] The wholesale cost of the MMR vaccine in the developing world is 0.24 USD per dose as of 2014.[4] In the United States it costs between 50 and 100 USD.[5]

Medical uses[edit]

Rubella vaccine is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medications needed in a health system.[6]


There are two main ways to delivery the rubella vaccine.[1] The first is initially efforts to immunize all people less than forty years old followed by providing a first dose of vaccine between 9 and 12 months of age.[1] Otherwise simply women of childbearing age can be vaccinated.[1]

While only one dose is necessary two doses are often given as it usually comes mixed with the measles vaccine.[1]


It theoretically should not be given during pregnancy.[1] However, more than a thousand women have been given the vaccine when they did not realize that they were pregnant and no negative outcomes occurred.[1] Testing for pregnancy before giving the vaccine is not needed.[1]

If a low titre is found during pregnancy, the vaccine should be given after delivery. It is also advisable to avoid becoming pregnant for the 4 weeks following the administration of the vaccine.[7]


Laboratory monkey inspected by Drs. Harry M. Meyer, Jr. (left) and Paul D. Parkman (right), assisted by Rudyard Wallace, technician (center).

A team of researchers at the National Institutes of Health's Division of Biologics standards developed the rubella vaccine. Lead by Harry M. Meyer and Paul J. Parkman, the team included Hope Hopps, Ruth L. Kirschstein, and Rudyard Wallace among others, the team began serious work on the vaccine with the arrival of a major rubella epidemic in the United States in 1964. Prior to arriving at the NIH, Parkman had been working on isolating the rubella virus for the Army. He joined the laboratory of Harry Meyer.[8]

The first rubella vaccine was prepared by passing the virus through the cells of an African green monkey kidney 77 times.[9]

Parkman, Meyer, and the team from the NIH tested the vaccine at the Children's Colony in Conway, Arkansas in 1965 while a rubella epidemic still raged across the United States.[10] This residential home provided care for children with cognitive disabilities and children who were ill. The ability to isolate children in their cabins and control access to the children made it an ideal location for testing a vaccine without starting an epidemic of rubella. Each of the children's parents provided consent for the participation in the trial.[8]

In June 1969, the NIH issued the first license for commercial production of the rubella vaccine to the pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme.[11] This vaccine made use of the HPV77 rubella strain and was produced in duck embryo cells. This version of the rubella vaccine was in use for only a few years before the introduction of the combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine in 1971.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "Rubella vaccines: WHO position paper" (PDF). Releve epidemiologique hebdomadaire / Section d'hygiene du Secretariat de la Societe des Nations = Weekly epidemiological record / Health Section of the Secretariat of the League of Nations. 86 (29): 301–16. 15 July 2011. PMID 21766537. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016.
  2. ^ Atkinson, William (2011). Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (12 ed.). Public Health Foundation. pp. 301–323. ISBN 9780983263135. Archived from the original on 2017-05-01. Retrieved 1 Mar 2015.
  3. ^ "WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (19th List)" (PDF). World Health Organization. April 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Vaccine, Measles-Mumps-rubella". International Drug Price Indicator Guide. Archived from the original on 16 January 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  5. ^ Hamilton, Richart (2015). Tarascon Pocket Pharmacopoeia 2015 Deluxe Lab-Coat Edition. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 315. ISBN 9781284057560.
  6. ^ "WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (18th list)" (PDF). World Health Organization. October 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 April 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  7. ^ Marin, M; Güris, D; Chaves, SS; Schmid, S; Seward, JF; Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) (22 June 2007). "Prevention of varicella: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)". MMWR. Recommendations and reports : Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Recommendations and reports / Centers for Disease Control. 56 (RR-4): 1–40. PMID 17585291. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014.
  8. ^ a b Parkman, Paul. "Dr. Paul Parkman Oral History" (PDF). Office of NIH History. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  9. ^ Parkman, P.D.; Meyer, H.M.; Kirschstein, R.L.; Hopps, H.E. (November 1966). "Development and characterization of a live attenuated rubella virus". The Journal of Pediatrics. 69 (5): 893. doi:10.1016/S0022-3476(66)80490-0. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  10. ^ Milford, Lea. "Arkansas Children's Colony aka: Conway Human Development Center". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Retrieved October 13, 2018.
  11. ^ Wendt, Diane. "Combating infectious disease and slaying the rubella dragon, 1969-1972". O Say Can You See?. National Museum of American History. Retrieved October 13, 2018.

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