Somali Immunization Program Summary

Marina Martinez, Program Manager

Thanks to a grant from the American Academy of Pediatrics, from January through July of this year WCAAP partnered with trusted Somali leaders Dr. Anisa Ibrahim, Dr. Ahmed Ali, and the Somali Health Board staff to gain a greater understanding of needs and increase vaccination rates for the Somali community as the Somali population in Seattle is reluctant to vaccinate, specifically with the MMR vaccine.

This grant enabled us to interview six Somali families, wherein we discovered that information is shared and accepted from within the tight-knit Somali community, including false vaccine information targeted at their community. While short videos are the preferred method to consume information, trust in providers and having them take the time to answer questions needs improvement to increase vaccination rates within the population.

As a result, we produced two community webinars and one provider webinar to educate, provide vaccine resources, and increase vaccination rates among Somali patients. The community webinars were hosted in Somali and helped to educate, debunk myths, provided a space for questions, and facilitated the sharing of vaccine resource. The webinars are available for viewing on the Somali Health Board’s Facebook page.

[The webinar was] Particularly great how you reflected that a strong recommendation is a theme you’ve been hearing over and over. I thought “Wow that’s a super important summary.”

Provider Webinar Attendee

During the provider webinar, providers walked away with the understanding that a strong recommendation and taking time to answer questions is essential. Providers shared positive feedback that the webinar gave a greater understanding of Somali patients. The webinar is posted on the WCAAP website and was also shared with the WA-CHIP Immunization Learning Collaborative.