Vaccinations play important role in health care

Last year Minnesota suffered through its largest measles outbreak, with 75 cases reported, many of them in the Somali community in Minneapolis. The Somali population was vulnerable because many parents had received misinformation about the possibility that vaccines can cause autism.

This notion is blatantly false. It has been discredited by study after study. A fraudulent paper published in 1998 in The Lancet has been retracted, the physician who wrote the paper has been discredited and lost his license to practice medicine. Yet still the fraud continues to turn parents fearfully away from one of the most important health measures they can provide their children.

One reason this story keeps spreading — researchers from George Washington University, the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University have found that Russian online trolls have been spreading false information about the the supposed dangers of vaccinations, and downplaying the dangers of the diseases against which the vaccines protect us.

They also spread pro-vaccination information, the researchers found.

The goal of these trolls, the same ones who meddled in the American 2016 election, is not to make us all sick. It’s to get us arguing with each other by whipping up reaction to hot-button issues.

This year Minnesota had two measles cases reported, both involving unvaccinated children who had visited countries where measles are more prevalent. Europe and Africa are seeing increases in measles because of low vaccination rates.

As Minnesota enters the school year and the flu vaccination season, let’s remember that there is no good reason not to get children vaccinated against the diseases that are out there.

Consider the source of any information that warns you of the dangers of vaccinations. It is not coming from any reputable source.