Sun. Feb 5th, 2023
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 28: Lydia Fulton, LPN, administers the MMR vaccine to a child at Children's Primary Care Clinic.
Enlarge / MINNEAPOLIS, MN – APRIL 28: Lydia Fulton, LPN, administers the MMR vaccine to a child at Children’s Primary Care Clinic.

Minnesota is experiencing the largest measles outbreak since the 1990s after a focused and intense effort by anti-vaccination groups there to spread the false belief that vaccines cause autism.

As of Thursday, health officials reported 41 confirmed cases, nearly all unvaccinated children from a Somali immigrant community in Hennepin County. The community has been targeted for years by anti-vaccination groups aided by Andrew Wakefield, a fraudulent former doctor.

In the early 2000s, Somalia’s large immigrant population had high vaccination rates. But in 2008, fears that their children were suffering from more autism swept through the community. Although research later concluded that autism rates were not unusually high in the community, anti-vaccination activists jumped on the panic. The activists held community meetings and invited Wakefield to visit frightened families. Vaccination coverage fell from 92 percent in 2004 to 42 percent in 2014.

Wakefield, a former British doctor now living in Texas, is considered the founder of the modern anti-vaccination movement. In 2010, around the time he visited the Somali community, he was stripped of his UK medical license for falsifying a 1998 study. The study fraudulently claimed that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine caused autism. Wakefield was paid to produce the study in support of a money-making legal scheme, which ultimately failed. The study was withdrawn and Wakefield was also found guilty of dozens of other counts of professional misconduct, including molesting autistic children.

Despite the shocking misconduct and withdrawal, the damaging belief that life-saving vaccines cause autism lives on.

In a Sunday night presentation to the Somali community, anti-vaccine activist Mark Blaxill played off the threat of autism while glossing over the real risk of measles. The Washington Post reports. “When you hear people from the state public health department say there is no risk, that [vaccines] be safe, this is the kind of thing that should make you skeptical,” said Blaxill.

Community health experts watched in shock and horror. They were not allowed to attend some meetings.

“It’s remarkable to come in and talk to a population that is vulnerable and marginalized and doesn’t necessarily have the capacity to stand up for itself, and take advantage of it,” said Siman Nuurali, a Somali-American clinician coordinating the care of medical personnel. complex patients in children’s hospitals and clinics of Minnesota, the After. “It’s repulsive.”

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that generally causes fever, cough, runny nose, and rash. About a third of cases develop complications, including diarrhea, blindness, inflammation of the brain and pneumonia. In rare cases, it can be fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children receive a dose of MMR vaccine between 12 and 15 months, and then again between 4 and 6 years. The vaccine is very safe and effective, with two doses being 97 percent effective in preventing infection.

By akfire1

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