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Rubella vaccine (MMR) before pregnancy

Rubella is rare but it can be dangerous to the unborn baby if you catch it while you’re pregnant. You can prevent this by making sure you have the MMR vaccination (jab), which includes rubella, before you start trying for a baby.

What is Rubella?

Rubella (also known as German Measles) is a disease caused by a virus.

The virus is air-borne, which means it can spread through the air when you do things like coughing or sneezing.

Symptoms can include:

  • a rash
  • sore throat
  • a slight temperature
  • swollen glands.

Some people don’t have any symptoms at all and may not know they are infectious. This means they could pass the virus to someone else without realising.

A person can have the virus for up to 21 days before they develop any symptoms.

Why is catching Rubella dangerous for pregnant women?

Rubella can be very dangerous to a baby’s development, especially during the early stages of pregnancy. It can cause:

  • hearing loss
  • eye conditions
  • heart defects
  • brain damage
  • miscarriage.

Rubella is a rare disease, but if you’re planning to have a baby it’s important not to take any risks. You can protect your baby by getting vaccinated before you start trying to conceive.

How do I find out if I need a vaccination (jab )?

You do not need rubella vaccination if you had one rubella or two MMR vaccinations as a child. MMR stands for Measles, Mumps, Rubella. This is normally given to children in two injections before they reach 6 years of age.

Check with your GP if you’re not sure

If you do not know who your doctor was at the time or have no way of being certain that you were vaccinated then you can get it again now.

Having the vaccination again won’t do you any harm.

How do I get protected?

You can make an appointment to get vaccinated at your local GP practice. You will need to have two MMR jabs one month apart.

When should I get the vaccination?

It’s best to get it at least a month before trying to get pregnant. As it is a live vaccine (it uses a very weak form of the virus to make your body to develop immunity against it), getting it with MMR during pregnancy is not recommended.

So it is best to keep using contraception for one month more after you get your last MMR vaccine.

I’ve been pregnant before. Do I need to get vaccinated again?

If you have had two MMR vaccines before you won’t need them again.

If you’re not sure, make an appointment with your GP to find out what you need.

Are you ready to conceive? Use our tool to find out.

NHS and Public Health England Thinking of getting pregnant? Make sure you’re protected against German measles

Review dates
Reviewed: 05 June 2018
Next review: 05 June 2021

This content is currently being reviewed by our team. Updated information will be coming soon.