Measles Cases In Minnesota's Somali Community Increase After False Information Dissemination From Anti-Vaccine Groups

By Claire Parker, Parent Herald May 07, 04:00 am
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A measles outbreak is currently ongoing in the Somali community in Minnesota. PICTURED: : Incoming kindergartener Jeremy Conner, 5, reacts to a Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccination (MMR) as his father Mark Conner tries to comfort him August 26, 2002 in Santa Ana, California.
(Photo : David McNew/Getty Images)

Anti-vaccine groups disseminated false information regarding vaccinations causing autism after a concerted effort that targeted a Somali community in Minnesota. Now, health officials blamed such information dissemination in the increase of measles cases in the area since the 1990 outbreak.

Health officials said they recorded 41 cases and nearly all of them are from the Somali immigrant community in Hennepin County. Most of them were kids who did not get their regular vaccination against the disease.

One of the affected kids' parents, Suaado Salah, shared her three-year-old son and her 18-month-old daughter contracted the disease. She came to Minnesota more than 10 years ago and she revealed that the anti-vaccine groups urged them not to get vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella because they believed it caused autism.

After these anti-vaccine groups targeted the Somali community in Minnesota, the rate of immunization decreased drastically. Health experts then related the increase in the number of measles cases since last month in the area to the plummeting immunization rates.

A former physician named Andrew Wakefield, who is considered as the founder of the modern anti-vaccination movement, became the face of the anti-vaccine groups. Back in 2000 and the early years after that, the Somali community had high numbers of vaccination but in 2008, the information about autism and vaccination instilled fear in them. In 2004, the vaccination rate was at 92 percent while in 2014, the vaccination rate was at 42 percent.

Wakefield remained not credible to many as he became stripped of his British medical license due to a false 1998 study, which was about the relation of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine with autism. Wakefield said last week regarding the measles outbreak in the Somali community, "The Somalis had decided themselves that they were particularly concerned. I was responding to that."

Federal health officials recommend getting the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at 12- to 15-months-old. A second shot is recommended at four- to six-years-old, The Washington Post shared.

Healthline said Measles is highly contagious and is a viral infection. The common symptoms are fever, coughing, runny nose and rashes. In severe cases, the infection causes ear infection, bronchitis, blindness, pneumonia, diarrhea and inflammation of the brain. It could also lead to death.

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