SKAI Rubella prevalence chart

What are the side effects of the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine? 

Common side effects

  • About 10 per cent of children who receive the MMR vaccine experience local swelling, redness or pain at the injection site.  These symptoms usually resolve with one or two days.   
  • Between 5 and 15 per cent get a high fever and tiredness or lack of energy (malaise) between 5 and 12 days after they get the first dose of the vaccine.
  • About 5 per cent get a rash which cannot spread to anyone else.
  • Side effects are more common after the first dose, recommended at 12 months.

Rare side effects

  • Up tp 1.6 per cent get swollen glands, a stiff neck or joint pains.
  • About 0.03 per cent of children who get a first dose of MMR vaccine experience febrile convulsions (fits). These happen when a baby or child's temperature (fever) goes up suddenly. 

Very rare side effects

  • Between 0.003 and 0.005 per cent develop a blood disorder called thrombocytopaenia after their first dose of the MMR vaccine. Thrombocytopaenia causes children to bruise or bleed very easily. It usually lasts for between one and six months and then gets better.
  • About 0.0001 per cent of people who get any of the vaccines have an allergic reaction that affects their whole body, called anaphylaxis. This reaction usually happens within 15 minutes of getting the vaccination and can be treated with an injection (epinephrine). People who have this reaction usually recover quickly and don’t experience any long-term effects.


What are the symptoms of rubella?

Usual symptoms

  • Almost everyone who has rubella (German measles) gets a rash and painful, swollen glands.
  • About 90 per cent of babies who get rubella infection during the first three months of their mother's pregnancy are born deaf, blind, with a heart defect, or with another major abnormality.

Rare symptoms

  • About 0.016 per cent of people who have a rubella infection develop a dangerous condition called encephalitis, commonly known as ‘brain inflammation’.
  • Rubella infection can cause a blood disorder called thrombocytopenia. Thrombocytopenia causes children to bruise or bleed very easily. It usually lasts for between one and six months and then gets better.


REFERENCES / How vaccination has impacted the prevalence of rubella

Chiu C, Dey A, Wang H, et al. Vaccine Preventable Diseases in Australia, 2005 to 2007, Communicable Diseases Intelligence Volume 34 Supplement December 2010: S1-167.

Updated with data from NNDSS Annual Report Writing Group. Australia’s Notifiable Disease Status, 2010: Annual Report of the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. Communicable Diseases Intelligence Volume 36 March 2012: 36:1-69.

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