Mumps and the Rubella Vaccine: Are They Related?

Mumps and rubella are viral infections that were once much more prevalent in the western world. They are both airborne diseases that are most commonly spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Whilst adults can contract mumps and rubella, children, historically, were the ones who fell ill the most often. 

Mumps is a viral infection that affects the salivary glands near your ears which is what causes the tell-tale facial swelling. However, not everyone with mumps will have symptoms. For those who do have noticeable symptoms, it usually takes 2-3 weeks for them to appear after exposure.

Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Pain when eating or drinking
  • Pain on one or both sides of the face
  • Muscle aches or weakness
  • Malaise and fatigue

More serious but rare complications of mumps are hearing loss, testicular swelling, encephalitis, pancreatitis, and miscarriage.

Rubella, or German measles, is most often recognized by its distinctive red rash. The infection usually causes other mild symptoms that may be hard to notice. Like mumps, rubella has an incubation period of 2-3 weeks and lasts anywhere from 1 to 5 days.  

Symptoms of Rubella

  • Low grade fever
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • A rash that first appears on the face

Rarely, some people will experience much more severe symptoms that can have lasting consequences. This is especially true for any pregnant women who contract rubella. Nearly 80% of babies whose mothers had rubella in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy will have Congenital Rubella Syndrome. This syndrome can cause growth delays, deafness, heart defects, cataracts, and learning disabilities.

Rubella can also cause miscarriages. Between 1962-65 a rubella pandemic in Europe and the USA resulted in tens of thousands of miscarriages in pregnant women who became infected.

Thankfully, ever since the rubella and mumps vaccine was developed, rates of infection have dramatically decreased. The MMR vaccine is a vital vaccination for all children and for any adults who have not been vaccinated. Miles Pharmacy’s Travel Health Clinic in Kingston can provide you and your family with the life-saving MMR vaccine. In addition to the mumps vaccination, they can also give you advice and other vaccines to keep you and your family happy and healthy. Learn more at