Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Health officials say that vaccination rates against measles are worryingly low among Somali children in the United States and Britain because some parents still believe the MMR jab is linked to autism
Officials say that they are struggling to show that the vaccination is safe. It has been found that the discredited former doctor Andrew Wakefield visited some Somali groups in the United States. Health authorities there blame him for the drop-off in MMR vaccinations. Andrew Wakefield, who now lives in Texas, says that Somalis in Minnesota already had fears about autism and MMR before his visit. Health experts say that these fears have been reinforced by a common belief in their community that only the children of Somali families that emigrate to the West develop autism, whereas those who stay at home do not. While there is no solid evidence to confirm this, a small study of immigrants in Stockholm, the Swedish capital, did suggest that families using services for autistic children were more likely than expected to be from West and East Africa. And separate research in Britain also found that there was a higher than average incidence of autism in children born to African mothers - but it did not establish a reason why. The Minnesota department of health says that only around 50% of Somali children now receive the vaccine. Although there are no official statistics, vaccination rates are also believed to be low among Somali children in London.