Childhood vaccine beliefs reported by somali and non-somali parents

Emily R. Wolff, Diane J Madlon-Kay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: In 2011, an outbreak of measles in Minnesota was traced back to an unvaccinated Somali child. The purpose of this project was to (1) ascertain whether Somali parents are more likely than non-Somalis to refuse childhood vaccinations, particularly the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and (2) determine what factors influence the decision not to vaccinate. Methods: We explored parental perceptions and utilization of vaccines through a survey distributed to a convenience sample of Somali and non-Somali parents of children <5 years old in a family medicine clinic in Minneapolis, MN. Results: A total of 99 surveys were completed, 28% (n = 27) by Somali parents. Somali parents were more likely than non-Somali parents to have refused the MMR vaccine for their child (odds ratio, 4.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-18.0). Most of them refused vaccines because they had heard of adverse effects associated with the vaccine or personally knew someone who suffered an adverse effect. Somali parents were significantly more likely to believe that autism is caused by vaccines (35% vs. 8% of non- Somali parents). Somalis were also more likely to be uncomfortable with administering multiple vaccines at one visit (odds ratio, 4.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.4 -11.9) and more likely to believe that children receive too many vaccines. Conclusions: Statistically significant differences in perceptions and use of vaccines were reported by Somali and non-Somali participants. Somali parents are more likely to believe that the MMR vaccine causes autism and more likely to refuse the MMR vaccine than non-Somali parents. These beliefs have contributed to an immunization gap between Somali and non-Somali children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-464
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Immunization
  • Measles
  • Somalia
  • Vaccination

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