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Rubella statistics show that the disease has been on the decline in the United States, especially after 1969, when the vaccine was licensed for use. Statistics also show that the disease is primarily decreasing in children. Adults account for the majority of rubella cases reported today.
The last major epidemic of rubella in the United States occurred in 1964 and 1965, when millions of rubella cases led to 20,000 cases of infants born with congenital rubella syndrome.
Following vaccine licensure in 1969, rubella incidence declined rapidly. Each year from 1992 through 2000, fewer than 500 cases were reported; each year since 2001, fewer than 100 cases have been reported -- this is a 99 percent decline compared with the pre-vaccine era.
Although the incidence of rubella has decreased in all age groups, the decreases have been greatest among children. Therefore, adults account for an increasing number of the few cases that still occur; more than 70 percent of rubella cases since 2000 have been among adults, compared with 29 percent in 1991.
From 1995 to 2000, an average of five cases of congenital rubella syndrome were reported annually; since 2001, an average of one congenital rubella syndrome case has been reported annually.
From 1997 through 2000, most people with rubella were born outside the United States. Moreover, since 1997, most women whose infants were reported to have congenital rubella syndrome were born outside the United States in countries where routine rubella vaccination programs are not used or have only recently been implemented. From 1997 to 1999, 21 out of 26 infants with congenital rubella syndrome were Hispanic, and 24 out of 26 had foreign-born mothers.