Rubella has been eliminated from the Americas.

Another win for vaccinations.

Health officials have announced that the contagious viral infection Rubella has been eliminated from the Americas. It is the first region to successfully remove the infection that has very similar symptoms to measles. The last major cases occurred in 2009.

It’s been 15 years in the making. There’s been over a decade of campaigning for the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, and now the Americas can celebrate this achievement along with their elimination of smallpox and polio.

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced last week that the disease had been eliminated from North, Central and South American countries.

The World Health Organisation does great work trying to prevent disease worldwide. Image via @worldhealthorganization Instagram.

Experts in the medical field have called the milestone an 'historic achievement'. Both Rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) are the third and fourth vaccine-preventable diseases to be eliminated from the Americas. It's also more proof that vaccinations and vaccine awareness campaigns are positive, necessary and life saving.

"Ours was the first region to eradicate smallpox, the first to eliminate polio, and now the first to eliminate rubella. All four achievements prove the value of immunisation and how important it is to make vaccines available even to the remotest corners of our hemisphere," said PAHO/WHO Director Carissa F. Etienne.

There were widespread outbreaks of Rubella (also known as German measles) throughout the Americas before the MMR vaccine was introduced. Now, WHO is calling for the vaccines to be available in the most remote countries and towns worldwide.

WHO is currently in Nepal coordinating an MMR immunisation campaign. Image via @worldhealthorganization Instagram.

The main demographic at major risk from Rubella is pregnant women.

"When contracted by women early in pregnancy, it [rubella] can cause miscarriage or CRS, a constellation of birth defects that often includes blindness, deafness, and congenital heart defects," a statement from PAHO/WHO said.


The statistics are important to know. Before the huge scale roll out of rubella vaccinations there were approximately 16, 000 - over 20, 000 children born with CRS every year in Latin America and the Caribbean. There were over 158, 000 Rubella cases reported in 1997 alone, which is a shockingly high number.

In 2003, after the widespread use of the MMR vaccine, PAHO/WHO member countries set a target to eliminate rubella by 2010. The English-speaking Caribbean countries got on board with the mass Rubella vaccination campaigns - aiming their campaign at adolescents and adults. Ultimately around 250 million adolescents and adults in 32 countries and territories got the vaccination against Rubella between 1998 and 2008, with the last endemic cases of Rubella and CRS reported in the Americas in 2009.

Now the organisations are celebrating Rubella elimination. Image via PHO/WHO Twitter.

"The fight against Rubella has taken more than 15 years, but it has paid off with what I believe will be one of the most important Pan American public health achievements of the 21st century," said PAHO/WHO Director Etienne.

It's incredible news for the fight against preventable disease, and is solid proof that vaccinations are so necessary in our society. In all countries, to help end the spread of deadly disease like Rubella.

How do you feel about such a huge achievement in the fight against rubella, through vaccinations?

Want more? Try:

"Don't be responsible for measles."

"Why the vaccination debate is OVER."