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Australia has eliminated rubella, the World Health Organization has verified.

Rubella is a contagious viral illness that can result in miscarriage or stillbirth.

Also known as German measles, it is a contagious viral illness that causes a fever, rash and swollen lymph glands.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said it was a great day for public health in Australia and sends a powerful message that vaccinations work.

“I commend the efforts of Australia’s health professionals over the decades and the millions of parents who ensure their children are always vaccinated,” Mr Hunt said in a statement.

“Our National Immunisation Program played an essential role this huge achievement by ensuring high levels of vaccination coverage for rubella.”

If contracted by pregnant women during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, rubella can result in miscarriage or stillbirth or cause life-long problems for their babies.

Confirmation of rubella’s elimination comes a week after it was announced that immunisation rates for five year olds was at 94.62 per cent – the highest figure on record.

“The science is in and the medical experts’ advice is absolute – vaccinations save lives and protect lives and they are an essential part of a healthy society,” Mr Hunt said.

Australia has had rolling epidemics of rubella since the early 1900s.

The the largest number of cases was reported in 1958 with over 5000 notified cases.

Even during the early 1990s there were more than 4000 notified cases.

The current National Immunisation Program provides free vaccination for protection against rubella for children aged 12 months with a booster at 18 months.

The World Health Organization has confirmed Australia has also maintained its measles elimination status, after being verified in 2014.

However, Mr Hunt urged Australians not to become complacent.

“Measles and rubella are very contagious and remain endemic in many countries so we need to remain vigilant and keep our vaccinations up to date,” he said.


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