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The combination is 97 percent effective in preventing the viral disease, which can cause pneumonia, brain swelling, deafness and, in rare instances, death.State health officials are now recommending doses for babies as young as 6 months if there is concern for ongoing measles exposure.“It’s abhorrent.”Although extensive research has disproved any relationship between vaccines and autism, the fear has become entrenched in the community.“I don’t know if we will be able to dig out on our own,” Nuurali said.Fear of autism runs so deep in the Somali community that parents whose children have recently come down with measles insist that measles is preferable to risking autism. You don’t know what you are talking about.”While scores of studies from around the world have shown conclusively that vaccines do not cause autism, that is often not a satisfactory answer for Somali American parents.One father, who did not want his family identified to protect its privacy, sat helplessly by his daughter’s bed at Children’s Minnesota hospital last week as she struggled to breathe during coughing fits. As soon as both children are well, she said, “they are going to get the shot.”The pervasive mistrust was evident Sunday night during a meeting, sponsored by several anti-vaccine groups, that drew a mostly Somali crowd of 90 to a Somali-owned restaurant here. They say that if science can explain that vaccines do not cause autism, science should be able to say what does. A growing body of evidence suggests that brain differences associated with autism may be found early in infancy – well before children receive most vaccines.Their father, who is 33 and studying mechanical engineering while working as a mechanic, wants to wait. A colleague has a son “who is mute.”“I would hold off until she’s 3 . The presentation by anti-vaccine activist Mark Blaxill drew cheers and applause. Meanwhile, the ongoing spread of the anti-vaccine message is making it harder to control the burgeoning number of measles cases.

At one 2011 gathering featuring Wakefield, Bahta recalled, an armed guard barred her, other public health officials and reporters from attending.A limited survey by the state health department the following year found an unexpectedly high number of Somali children in a preschool autism program.But a University of Minnesota study found that Somali children were about as likely as white children to be identified with autism, although they were more likely to have intellectual disabilities.Immunization rates plummeted, and last month the first cases of measles appeared.Soon there was a full-blown outbreak, one of the starkest consequences of an intensifying anti-vaccine movement in the United States and around the world that has gained traction in part by targeting specific communities.“It’s remarkable to come in and talk to a population that’s vulnerable and marginalized and who doesn’t necessarily have the capacity for advocacy for themselves, and to take advantage of that,” said Siman Nuurali, a Somali American clinician who coordinates the care of medically complex patients at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

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