Americas region is declared the world’s first to eliminate rubella
The Americas region has become the first in the world to be declared free of endemic transmission of rubella, a contagious viral disease that can cause multiple birth defects as well as fetal death when contracted by women during pregnancy.
This achievement culminates a 15-year effort that involved widespread administration of the vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) throughout the Western Hemisphere. The announcement comes as 45 countries and territories of the Americas are participating in the 13th annual Vaccination Week in the Americas (April 25 to May 2).
The declaration of elimination, made by an international expert committee during a meeting at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) last week, makes rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) the third and fourth vaccine-preventable diseases to be eliminated from the Americas, following the regional eradication of smallpox in 1971 and the elimination of polio in 1994.
“The elimination of rubella from the Americas is a historic achievement that reflects the collective will of our region’s countries to work together to achieve ambitious public health milestones,” said PAHO/WHO Director Carissa F. Etienne. “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 immunization and how important it is to make vaccines available even to the remotest corners of our hemisphere.”