Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a controversial British doctor whose research purported to link vaccines to autism, met privately with a gathering of Somali parents in Minneapolis on Wednesday night.The effects of anti-vaccine hysteria are very real in the case of the Somali community.
Wakefield, who arrived amid the city's first measles outbreak in years, declined to answer questions about the purpose of his visit. Reporters were barred from the meeting, which was described as a "support group" for parents of autistic children.
Health officials say that vaccination rates have been dropping in the Somali community because of fears about vaccine safety, fueled by Wakefield's now-discredited research.Wakefield's claim that vaccination increases the risk of autism must be one of the greatest medical frauds of all time.
As of Wednesday, 11 measles cases have been confirmed in Hennepin County since February, at least three among unvaccinated children in the Somali community in Minneapolis. Local and state health officials are planning a forum for Somali immigrants Saturday to discuss the measles outbreak and the need to vaccinate children.
Perhaps that's why he's working with immigrant communities. There's a good chance they don't know who he is, or that he's been accused of fraud and has had his medical licence taken away.
I'm not sure why journalists continue to call Wakefield a doctor. Can you still call yourself a doctor if you've been stripped of your licence to practice? Perhaps someone with a medical background can clarify this point. I know, for example, that in this country you can't call yourself a lawyer unless you've got a practising certificate.
(hat tip to Grant Jacobs of Sciblogs for the link)