Health

Anti-Vaccine Website Upset That Muslims Don't Vaccinate

| by Michael Allen

The news site WND often publishes articles criticizing vaccines and vaccinations, but on May 10 the site appeared to blame Muslims in Minnesota who did not vaccinate their children for a measles outbreak.

The site ran the headline, "Midwest Muslim measles outbreak nearly doubles," with the sub-headline, "Vast majority of cases among unvaccinated 'Somali Minnesotan' population."

WND linked to the Minnesota Department of Health's website, which notes there had been 51 cases of measles in the outbreak, of which "46 of the cases are Somali Minnesotan."

Somali-Americans in Minnesota actually had higher vaccination rates than the general public, but the rates started plummeting after news reports in 2008 said Somali-American students had higher rates of autism, Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports.

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Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease division director at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, recalled that it was the anti-vaccine activists who "almost immediately" spread a debunked assertion that the MMR [measles, mumps and rubella] vaccine was linked to autism, which poisoned the community's view on vaccinations.

Back at WND, the site tried to link the spread of measles to Muslim immigrants:

Measles were declared eliminated in the United States in 2000. But Minnesota and other states see sporadic cases, typically linked to international travel and the influx of Third World refugees and asylum seekers.

Somalia was one of six countries President Trump wanted to include in a 120-day pause in refugee resettlement, along with Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Iran. But his executive order to that effect has been blocked by federal district courts in Washington and Hawaii.

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The site also referred to Dr. Andrew Bostom who said, "The case against vaccinations is first an Islamic one."

Bostom referred to an article by Dr. Majid Katme, spokesman for the Islamic Medical Association in the UK, who said in 2011: "We are giving our innocent children haram [forbidden] substances and harmful chemicals that destroy their natural immune systems, causing disease, suffering and death."

The autism-vaccine movement began in 1998, when UK surgeon Dr. Andrew Wakefield published false data in the Lancet medical journal, which later retracted Wakefield's study, the Pioneer Press notes.

WND has also contributed to the anti-vaccination movement with articles.

On April 24, the site ran an article by Bill Sardi, a medical researcher and author in the areas of health and nutrition:

To oppose vaccination nowadays is akin to the believing the Earth is flat. But efforts to stamp out any opposition to vaccination without question or doubt suggests pro-vaccine forces preach dogma. Even free speech cannot be allowed because lives are said to be at risk.

But there is illogic there. If vaccines truly do afford long-term protection against infectious disease via memory T-cells that provoke antibodies, how could the unvaccinated pose a health threat to the vaccinated?

Health authorities have been quick to blame recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough on unvaccinated children, and this has been used as an impetus to hurriedly pass mandatory vaccination laws in various states.

However, recent infectious disease outbreaks largely occurred among the vaccinated, not the unvaccinated.

Marcel Salathe, an assistant professor of biology and adjunct faculty of computer science and engineering at Pennsylvania State University, explained in The Washington Post in 2015 that it is not vaccinated people who usually get infected, it is susceptible people who infect other susceptible people.

The Centers for Disease Control website notes that most measles cases happen to unvaccinated people.

WND ran an article in August with the headline: "Stunner! Whistleblower claims feds hiding vaccine-autism link."

That article featured regular WND columnist Dr. Lee Hieb who "argues that the MMR vaccine is uniquely dangerous."

In February 2015, WND ran another anti-vaccination article with the headline: "Measles Vaccines Kill More Than Measles."

The article sounded the alarm because vaccinations had eradicated measles for 12 years, but there were people who had reportedly died from adverse reactions to the measles vaccinations during those 12 years:

While those opposing mandatory vaccination for measles are widely portrayed as ignorant and even dangerous by some officials, pundits and even news media accounts, Centers for Disease Control records reveal a startling truth – while no one has died of measles in the U.S. in the last 12 years, 108 have died as a result of the adverse effects of the vaccine in that same time period.

Sources: WND (23, 4), Minnesota Department of HealthTwin Cities Pioneer PressCenters for Disease Control, The Washington Post / Photo Credit: Pete Lewis/DFID via Flickr

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