Medical Q&As

Rubella - antibody test?

I am a 25 year old female and have never been vaccinated against rubella nor, to my knowledge, have I ever been in contact with the disease. Is it necessary to be vaccinated or should I be tested for antibodies first to see if I am already immune as I may have come in contact with rubella without actually showing symptoms of the disease? Can rubella antibodies be detected in a blood test and could my GP take the blood sample?

You should be tested for rubella antibodies. Rubella antibodies can be detected in a small sample of blood, which your GP could take for you. You are absolutely correct when you say that you might have had rubella as a child and have no recollection of that event. Rubella tends to be a mild illness of short duration and can occur in a sub-clinical form, which means that the infected person might not have a rash or other signs to alert them to the fact that they are infected. When a person is infected with rubella they usually develop life-long immunity against the disease, in which case vaccination is not necessary. Vaccination provides long term immunity that might not be life-long but would certainly take a woman through the duration of her reproductive years. If the test shows that you are not immune to rubella then it would be advisable for you to be vaccinated. In that scenario it would be absolutely necessary for you to ensure that you would not become pregnant for at least three full menstrual cycles after being vaccinated.