NPR

Understanding The History Behind Communities' Vaccine Fears

A measles outbreak in Minnesota's Somali-American community is the latest example of the challenges public health officials face in addressing deeply ingrained concerns about vaccine safety.
Vials of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine are displayed on a counter at a Walgreens Pharmacy in 2015 in Mill Valley, California. Source: Photo illustration by Justin Sullivan

All four of Anab Gulaid's children have received their vaccinations on the recommended schedule. As Somali-American residents of Minneapolis, that puts them in the minority.

Fewer than half of Minnesota children of Somali descent have received the MMR shot that protects against measles, mumps and rubella, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Health, which is now working to combat a growing measles outbreak in the Twin Cities.

As of Wednesday, the case count was up to 34 — all but two unvaccinated, almost all Somali-American, and mostly children ages 5 and under.

Even in the midst of the outbreak, Somali resistance to vaccination remains strong in Minneapolis. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the United States. It's a relatively recent attitude that emerged alongside

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