On April 29th, 2015, the WHO announced that the Americas region (which comprises all of North/South America except for Greenland) was the first of the WHO-defined regions to completely eliminate rubella. Rubella is now that 3rd vaccine-preventable infection to be eliminated from the United States (after smallpox and polio). While this news comes 5 years later than the original PAHO (Pan-American Health Organization)/WHO plan dictated, this is still a monumental feat. A once-common rash of childhood, rubella has been on the decline over the past 15 years because of the ubiquity of the MMR vaccine. Director General of the WHO Margaret Chan stated that a 3-year Vaccine Action Plan gave the elimination effort the last big push it needed. The last cases of endemic Rubella were reported in Argentina and Brazil in 2009. While rubella is generally not as dangerous as measles, congenital rubella can still cause miscarriage, deafness, blindness and other complications for developing fetuses.
Within the next 5 years, the WHO hopes to solidify a plan (with dates) for the global eradication of rubella and measles. Measles will likely be even more difficult to eradicate because measles is one of the most contagious viral infections known.
In the mean time, they advise parents to keep vaccinating their kids. Let’s hope the anti-vaxxers don’t mess this up.