Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger, MD, is quoted in the press release as saying, “This outbreak showed that preventing disease requires all of us working together. Public health is a community, collective endeavor. It’s what we as a society do together to ensure the conditions in which everyone can be healthy.”
Previous reports revealed that anti-vaccine activists had targeted the Somali community
with claims that vaccines caused autism, citing fraudulent research to support their claims.” Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNN at the time, “Between 2000 and roughly 2008, the Somali community in Minnesota actually had some of the highest vaccination rates for 2-year-olds of any population in the state. [However], by about 2008, we started to see the vaccine rates drop as the word got through the Somali community that autism was linked to measles vaccination….” This contributed to the lack of vaccinations seen in the community.
According to Dr. Ehlinger, the MDH “is committed to sustaining the momentum gained from working so closely with so many leaders and partners in the Somali community over the course of the outbreak to improve not just vaccination rates but other conditions affecting the health of the community.” Activities the department has planned range from working with a Somali community member to engage their fellow Minnesotan Somalis, to autism education outreach programs, and working with child care centers on the importance of vaccines, and many more.
In all, Kris Ehresmann, RN, MPH, director of infectious disease for the Minnesota Department of Health is pleased with the response to this recent outbreak, remaking in the press release that, “Seventy-nine cases is 79 too many, but when you consider how many people were exposed and how many were susceptible, it’s clear that the interventions helped keep the outbreak from being even worse.”
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