Measles Outbreak in Minnesota Caused by Vaccine Skeptics

The measles outbreak has led to the implementation of visitor guidelines at some area hospitals and clinics.

Skepticism about vaccines within Minnesota's Somali community goes back a decade, the Post reported, after parents raised concern about possible higher rates of autism among their children (research later indicated that wasn't the case).

The health care system said Monday morning that it's asking that children under age 5 not visit its hospitals unless they are seeking care. Exceptions may be considered based on the critical condition/prognosis of the patient those children would be visiting.

Minnesota health officials are ramping up their recommendations to get vaccinated, as the number of confirmed measles cases grows to 44.

Allina hospitals and clinics with visitor restrictions.

In addition, anyone with a cough or sore throat is asked to wear a mask while in a hospital.

All visitors are asked to cover their coughs, and to wash their hands or use the antibacterial hand cleanser provided throughout Allina facilities. The Washington Post reported Friday that the number of children of Somali descent in Minnesota who have received the vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) plunged from 92 percent in 2004 to 42 percent in 2014 - not almost enough to immunize against those diseases.

But the outbreak has not only caught people's attention; it has helped demonstrate that anti-vaccine activists are wrong, state and county health officials say. As many as 2,500 people may have been exposed, say health investigators. Many of those treated under the current outbreak have been hospitalized. As of 2014, just 42 percent of Somali-Minnesotan 2-year-olds had received the vaccine, compared with 89 percent of all other 2-year-olds.

Vanessa Coleman