Search This Blog

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Measles and Somalis

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.

Lena Sun reports at The Washington Post:
Salah [Suaado, Somali immigrant mother of children with measles] no longer believes that the MMR vaccine triggers autism, a discredited theory that spread rapidly through the local Somali community, fanned by meetings organized by anti-vaccine groups. The activists repeatedly invited Andrew Wakefield, the founder of the modern anti-vaccine movement, to talk to worried parents.
 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.
Uncertainty is a major theme of my book.  Although we know that vaccines do not cause autism, we are not yet certain about what does cause it.  And this uncertainty, in turn, gives rise to myths, misinformation, and conspiracy theory.  Sun writes in the same vein
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. They say that if science can explain that vaccines do not cause autism, science should be able to say what does.