Date Authored: July 14, 2016

Somali baby wearing hijab
Photo by UNICEF Ethiopia (cc license).

 In 2011 Public Health Seattle King County held focus groups with local Somali community leaders to learn about their attitudes, beliefs and practices regarding vaccination.  The cultural or religious issues can be complex and varied.

Some preliminary findings indicate there may be:

  1. Concern about vaccines containing porcine gelatin (consumption of pork or pork products is not Halal meaning not permissible according to Islamic law). There are many vaccines which do not contain porcine gelatin.
  2. Lack of familiarity with the concept of preventive health care.
  3. Some belief in a link between vaccines and autism-like disorders
  4. Some disbelief in the seriousness of influenza.  In the Somali language, there is no word for “influenza” or “flu”, and the closest translation is “hargabka” which means “cough” or “cold”.  

View the 2 page summary.