By Lindsey Seavert, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Currently, the Minnesota Department of Health says there are 14 confirmed cases of measles in Minnesota, but health care professionals worry that more cases could come and history could repeat itself.

Nurse Practitioner Patsy Stinchfield is the infectious disease director at the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in St. Paul, Minnesota. She remembers Minnesota’s deadly 1990 measles outbreak with more than 500 cases.

“I worked here at Children’s where we had a whole floor that was full of patients sick with measles, in the intensive care unit, on ventilators, three children died,” said Stinchfield.

Stinchfield says the 1990 outbreak began in the emerging Hmong community., where immigrants didn’t immediately access health care or understand the value of vaccines. Today, health investigators see similarities with the outbreak beginning in the Somali community.

A recent Somali forum over the weekend addressed concerns that the vaccine could be harmful. There, the Minnesota Council on Vaccine Safety argued the public needs more information about vaccine risks, and argued that parents should have a right to choose whether their children should be immunized.

Stinchfield says she isn’t sure the public understands how serious the measles infection is. Stinchfield says if an infected person walked through the hospital lobby, the virus would remain airborne for up to two hours and could infect someone without the MMR vaccine.

The hospital held a free clinic Sunday offering the Measles Mumps Rubella, or MMR vaccine. Stinchfield says the hospital expected hundreds, but only around two dozen turned out.

“We need our state to be at 95 percent or higher on the MMR vaccine, and at last check, we were at 82 percent,” said Stinchfield.

Stinchfield says an estimated 98 percent of school age children in Minnesota are vaccinated on time.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 13 of Minnesota’s 14 cases can be traced to a patient who traveled here through Kenya, while one case is tied to Florida. Cases have ranged in age from 4 months old to 51 years old.

Five of the cases were too young to receive vaccine, six were of age, but were not vaccinated, and three have unknown vaccine status.

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends people receive the vaccine in two doses — one as soon as possible after the first birthday and four weeks after that.

If you are an adult who had the vaccine, health experts say only a small group of people who missed the second dose should worry if they need the vaccine again.

Children’s experts tell us people in their 40s and early 50s should check with their doctors. That’s because the second MMR dose wasn’t required until 1989. People who were out of school by then might have missed the second vaccine.

Comments (25)
  1. Scott Funk says:

    Oops! Looks like being poorly educated and superstitious is a health risk! Who woulda thunk?

  2. Jody says:

    If you come to opur country..FOLLOW OUR RULES. Or, GO HOME!

    1. Alex McC says:

      All of you here make it about nationality there are soooo many Americans who don’t vaccinate their children. They were obviously not properly educated by OUR government when they arrived here so its their fault? Talking about making people leave OUR country. What makes this ours? We took it from someone too….. Someone had to say it

  3. Sam I Am says:

    Vaccinate or leave.

  4. unbelievable says:

    Unbelievable…a forum on if to get vaccinated??? R u kidding??? Go back to your home country and take your chances… The culture here is American…abide by it!!!

  5. unbelievable says:

    When you put childrens’ lives at risk because you choose not to vaccinate yours, it is very disrespectful and ignorant…things are done a certain way here just like they are done a certain way elsewhere.

  6. Concerned Parent says:

    If it was just a matter of people choosing to gamble with the health of their own children, I would be slightly less concerned. But since their decision has the potential to impact the health of many others, it is very concerning. There are a lot of children too young to receive the vaccine or for other health reasons are unable. Who is looking out for them?

  7. rick says:

    Anchor babies are United States citizens from the moment they’re born, and they instantly qualify for public welfare aid. And over 300,000 anchor babies become citizens each year in the United States. If you say only few percent of these anchor babies are not vaccinated, you do the math and see how disturbing and risky it is to our health and healthcare system overall.

  8. fed/up/with/it/all says:

    Daughter in law came from a country in Europe. She had her vaccinations as a child, got them again at a US embassy one month before she move here. Immigration lost her papers and were going to make her have the vaccinations all over again. She went through a LOT of red tape and got the issue resolved. How is it these frick’n people from Somalia get here and stay here without being vaccinated? You’re in America! Quit trying to stomp us out! Go back to where you came from if you think you’re culture is so great.

  9. Someone says:

    People you need to realize that the vast majority of the Somali-Americans they are talking about are those that were born on US soil, their parents are almost all refugees and as a result are here legally.

    It isn’t just Somalians that are not getting vaccinated, an amazing amount of European-American along with African-Americans and European themselves in Europe that are not getting vaccinated.

  10. Murph says:

    fear of autism from vaccines is one reason people fear it.Yet the symptoms of autism are exactly what happens when the brain is deprived of oxygen.Perhaps the oxygen in the air where you live is not the 21 % the Government says it is? Well at levels of 17% and below your brain will start to shut down functions not related to survival. So studies should differentiate the air quality urban vs rural,rural vs deep forest ,elevations,etc.Obviously this autism must have begun in the womb or shortly after birth.OR..they are flat out lying about something else that they know full well is doing it.Only Big Oil or Big Government has that kind of power!

    1. Sarah in Outstate MN says:

      Murph, Andrew Wakefield, who wrote the article linking autism to vaccines is currently under indictment in the UK for medical fraud. His study was phoney based on phoney evidence and has been soundly rejected by doctors. People who are afraid to vaccinate their kids out of fear of autism still believe Andrew Wakefield. He’s a fraud.

      I love the Big Oil/Big Government statement. So true.

  11. madmommy says:

    This has me so pissed off! Vaccines should be required unless you are medically unable to get them. I.e allergies. Quit putting other people at risk because of your own stupid selfish decisions. I have a baby who can’t get vaccinated yet because she’s too young. Quit bringing your diseases to America. Notice first outbreak was in HMONG community now SOMALI. Immigrants are causing to many problems. I know this may offend some people but hey were entitled to our opinions

  12. Education is our vaccination says:

    You know, let’s not hide the fact that WE ALL (Europeans, Africans, Asians, etc) brought a little something over to North America in some time or another that KILLED others. Let’s just be happy and grateful that we’re able to protect and educate ourselves better than before.

    Keep in mind that in our history books, the Europeans wiped out more “Americans” (or natives) than any other immigrated group today. But I’m not pointing fingers–just emphasizing that we should be grateful to have hospitals and technology to EDUCATE us before it turns into an epidemic. Get educated, get your shots, and be a good human being.

  13. sendemback says:

    Stop bringing somalis here and send the ones here back home (they seem to not want to associate with anyone else). this should help with the problem. otherwise the next time they have another public forum just lock the doors and vaccinate everyone in the building and charge them for it. consider it a fine for being irresponsible and putting other peoples lives in harms way

  14. Katie says:

    Why are people being allowed to come here, or stay (if they are under refugee status) without being vacinated? That’s totally wrong! They should have a health screening just like the European immigrants had to have before they could leave Ellis Island. They could be bringing in diseases that thrive in their country but are unusual to contract here.

    Immigrants need to assimilate to our culture and that include the accepted medical practices.

  15. Pete says:

    Who or what is the MN Council on Vaccine Safety? I could not find a link to their web site. The story makes them out to be against vaccines, but does not offer any reasons why or any expert medical opinions. Are they a real organization?

    1. Spokesperson says:

      Vaccine Safety Councile of MN is a broad coalition of concerned citizens and organizations that promote vaccination safety, transparency, and education about the immunization programs in our state.
      We are not against vaccines. We advocate for each and every parent to do their homework, research, and study the inherit risks of all vaccines.
      There is so much research and documentation on the adverse effects of our vaccination program. And the general public does not understand the collateral damage that is being done because our vaccines are not toxic free, and no credible safety studies to show the enormous number of multiple vaccines today that did not occur 20 years ago.

  16. Barb says:

    … some clarity on the statement on MMR vacination, per the MN Dept of Helath, a child should get their first MMR no earlier than their first birthday then a booster at 4-6 years. For persons over 13, they would get their inital MMR with their booster needing to be at least 4 weeks later.

  17. Monovalent says:

    Apparently the racists and functional literates scribbling here don’t realize that they have almost no legal rights if this consumer product malfunctions.
    Do some Googling: VAERS, NVICP, encephalopathy, “Bailey Banks,” “Hannah Poling.” Read some vaccine package inserts. Ask why consumers can no longer get a separate measles vaccine. Then ask why vaccine policymakers invest almost no time in trying to figure out why vaccines injure some children. Is that fair and ethical?
    And before you use the word “anti-vaccine,” think — would you call Ralph Nader “anti-car” for pointing out product problems?

  18. Jerri says:

    Get to know some Somali people – what you will learn is that there are many children who were completely normal until receiving their MMR vaccine. Then they suffered seizures and brain damage within hours of the vaccine and are now totally disabled. These are fine parents who are justifiably reluctant to do further vaccines.

  19. Pete says:

    Please point me to one piece of factual evidence which proves a connection between vaccines and the damage that some people think they cause. There are many “stories” but I have seen no “factual” evidence that these vaccines cause autism or any other permanent condition. There have been documented cases of temporary illnesses caused by adverse reactions to the vaccine and in some rare cases even death but that risk is statistically so small that I chose to vaccinate my kids. But don’t take my word for it, take some time and keep an open mind, do the research, look for credible sources for information, then make up your own mind. The decision to not protect our children and our community can not be made by believing that people like me, who know nothing, should take the place of finding out the facts and acting based on those facts.

  20. Joel Raes says:

    This needs to stop, its always something somewhere.


    Joel Raes

  21. tryecrot says:

    Yes there should realize the opportunity to RSS commentary, quite simply, CMS is another on the blog.

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