Despite the outbreaks of measles across the United States, the antivaccine movement continues to fan fears among parents, including those in Rochester’s Somali community. In 2016, measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination rates were 75 percent for Somali children compared with 90 percent for non-Somali children.
That’s deeply concerning to Nasra Giama, ’07 B.S.N., ’13 D.N.P, and Naima Yusuf, ’17 B.S. Both are Somali-American, ardent proponents of public health, and scholarship recipients during their time at the U.
In 2013, Giama, a University of Minnesota School of Nursing professor and Mayo Clinic research coordinator, helped start the Somali Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) in Rochester. Yusuf is its current coordinator.
SHAC hosts events that give people a chance to speak with health professionals about issues such as measles, autism, and the benefits of the MMR vaccine. “SHAC’s goal is to provide the best information to promote health for Somalis and other immigrant communities,” says Yusuf, a University of Minnesota Rochester graduate and post-baccalaureate research fellow at Mayo.