18 Rubella

18.7 Expected responses and adverse events following immunisation (AEFI)

See also section 11.7.

18.7.1 Expected responses

Mild reactions after immunisation with MMR vaccine include fever, sore throat, lymphadenopathy, rash, arthralgia and arthritis (see section 11.7.1). The prevalence of these side-effects is age related. Joint symptoms may be reported in 0–3 percent of children and 12–20 percent of adult women. Symptoms begin one to three weeks after immunisation and are usually transient. The prevalence of joint symptoms following rubella immunisation is lower than occurs with natural infection at a corresponding age.

It was previously thought that the rubella vaccine might lead to long-term arthritis. However, two large controlled studies found no supporting evidence of this.10, 11 Another study did find a slight increase in risk from rubella vaccine, but this was of borderline statistical significance.12 A 2012 Institute of Medicine review concluded that the evidence was inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship between MMR vaccine and chronic arthritis in women.13

18.7.2 Adverse events following immunisationTop

Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) and, rarely, neurological disturbances have been reported (see section 11.7.2).