Countries encouraged to use the opportunity of accelerated measles vaccination activities to introduce rubella-containing vaccines
15 July 2011 - In an updated position paper, published in the Weekly Epidemiological Record today, WHO recommends that countries use the opportunity of accelerated measles control and elimination activities to introduce rubella-containing vaccine. All countries that have not yet introduced rubella vaccine, and are providing two doses of measles vaccine using routine immunization and/or supplementary immunization activities should consider the inclusion of rubella-containing vaccine in their immunization programme.
Countries planning to introduce rubella-containing vaccine should review the epidemiology of rubella, including the susceptibility profile of the population; assess the burden of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS); and establish the public health priority of rubella and CRS prevention. Cost-benefit studies are not needed in every country before implementing rubella vaccination as results from studies in countries with similar socio-demographic circumstances can be informative. Countries should determine a goal and the time frame for achieving it before introduction.
Strong political commitment to the elimination of rubella and CRS as well as sustainable financing for vaccination and surveillance activities should be in place before initiating rubella vaccination in childhood immunization programmes.
Transmitted through airborne droplets, rubella is an acute, usually mild viral disease traditionally affecting susceptible children and young adults worldwide. Rubella infection just before conception and in early pregnancy may result in CRS. The highest risk of CRS is found in countries with high rates of susceptibility to rubella among women of childbearing age. While large-scale rubella vaccination during the last decade has enabled the elimination of rubella and CRS in the Western Hemisphere and several European countries, the current burden of CRS in Africa, South-East Asia and the Western Pacific regions is still thought to be high.