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An Open Letter to the Somali Parents of Minnesota

Black_hand_white_handBy J.B. Handley

Courageous Somali Parents:

I have had the pleasure of getting to know a number of you via phone and email over the past few months and you have my deepest respect and admiration. You remind us all that parental love and commitment to our kids is universal.

I have chosen to refrain from commenting publicly about autism in your community until after the November 15th meeting you had with the Minnesota Department of Health, because I wanted to give the MDH the benefit of the doubt that they would offer real information and real solutions to your community's overwhelming challenge with autism.

As we all know, the MDH's response to the crisis of your community was underwhelming. As such, I wanted to share with you my advice for what to do now.

A little background

There is a fact pattern emerging regarding Somali children born in Minnesota, and it is deeply disturbing. What we do know:

1. Estimates are that 1 in 28 Somali children born in Minnesota have autism. That's five times our national average of roughly 1 in 150. The Somali parents tell you that it is the easiest thing in the world to verify this very high number: just look at the composition of any special education class in Minneapolis.

2. Many Somali parents are blaming vaccines for triggering a regression in their child's development that led to autism. Is it all parents? No. But, my conversations to date lead me to conclude it is the overwhelming majority.

Now What?

Somali parents, I offer this advice as the father of a son with autism. Like many of you, I watched my normal son descend into autism after receiving his vaccines. I genuinely believe too many vaccines given too soon in our children's lives is the primary trigger for the autism epidemic. Just to clarify: I'm not a doctor, I'm not giving you medical advice, I'm giving you my opinion.

I also want to tell you something that I think many of you have already realized: you cannot trust the Minnesota Department of Health to do the right thing. They may help you find educational services for affected children, and that's a very good thing, but they will do nothing to help reduce the number of Somali children with autism in the future nor help the ones with autism recover and resume normal functioning.

You see, the Minnesota Department of Health is nothing more than a puppet for the Centers for Disease Control, and they will never lead the way in addressing the vaccine issue. I'm personally embarrassed for our country to see the behavior of these people, but they are simply acting out many universal human traits of denial, corruption, and self-protection.

So, Somali parents, it is time to take matters into your own hands, and only you can accomplish this. Here is what I would do if I were you:

1. Organize yourselves.

The more unified and deliberate the voice you have, the more power you have. Use the free speech we all have, but use it as a community and you will be heard. Create an organization name, meet, appoint officers, and make sure you are unified. Do not let infighting weaken your positions or resolve.

2. Declare a state of emergency within your community and create a new vaccine schedule for your kids.

As some of you have learned, giving children 36 vaccines by the age of 6 is very, very new. In the 1980s, we only gave 10 vaccines. As I wrote about in a piece HERE a few months back, I lived in 9 foreign countries before I was 10 years old and only received 5 total vaccines – and no one worried that I wasn't protected from deadly disease.

Also, in 1986, when our US Congress chose to insulate vaccine companies from liability, there was never any talk of a need for 26 incremental vaccines for our kids - we were simply trying to keep vaccine makers from going out of business. With 10 vaccines on the schedule in 1986, NO ONE, not even the CDC, said we needed MORE vaccines. Read about that history HERE

The reason we have so many new vaccines for kids is business, not health. Each vaccine adds $1 billion or more to a vaccine maker's pockets. Our children are simply pawns in this unfortunate corrupt game that we see in so many industries involved with health.

So, the assertion by the MDH that your child needs 36 vaccines and must have every single one is fiction, nothing more. Just like all the US children born in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s who were vaccinated from truly deadly diseases, you can meaningfully reduce the number of vaccines given to your children and still be a responsible parent. Prevent deadly disease while preventing autism!

I would recommend your community issue these emergency guidelines to all Somali parents immediately:

1. Mothers, do not receive any vaccines while pregnant, or within 18 months of planning to become pregnant

2. Do not have any dental work, particularly silver filings, while pregnant

3. While pregnant, take a minimum of 1,000 IU per day of Vitamin D

4. In the hospital, do not accept or receive any vaccines for your child

5. In the first year of life, try to avoid all antibiotics when your child is sick with an ear infection unless the illness is life-threatening

6. Do not give any children a vaccine until they are at least 12 months old

7. Do not give more than one vaccine per doctor's visit. If a doctor wont work on this schedule, find new doctors as a community who wil
8. Spread each vaccine out so there is a minimum of 3 months between them.

9. Never get a vaccine while your child is sick or taking antibiotics

10.  Consider these vaccines for your child, and only these vaccines: Polio, DTP, and MMR.

11.  For MMR vaccine, consider not giving to boys. At the least, delay the shot until a child is 2, and try very hard to break the shot up into three shots.

12.  Once you have given one shot of each vaccine you want to give, DO NOT do a second shot until you have had a titer test done on your child. It is highly likely that a single shot was enough to generate immunity, as immunity takes in about 95% of cases after one shot.

13. Make sure all parents know their rights.

As some of you have learned, giving shots to your child is NOT required by the law, and Minnesota provides exemptions based on Religious, Medical, and Philosophical grounds. Click HERE to find the detail for how to file for exemptions under Minnesota State law. They cannot make you vaccinate your baby without your consent!

14. Send a delegation of Somali parents to Autism One.

Over the next few months, Generation Rescue will reach out to your community to try to help treatment begin for as many affected children as possible. As one way to further your education, Generation Rescue will finance all costs for up to ten Somali parents to attend the Autism One conference in Chicago in May of 2009. In the meantime, I encourage parents to read our website at Generation Rescue and start to initiate some of the simple interventions for your kids using diet and supplements.

15. Stay strong.

As your community receives more publicity in the coming months, stay strong. Know your rights. Do not accept lies. Protect your children. Your fight is our fight. Your experience is our experience. We are here to help you. We will tell your story. We will not be intimidated.

Wishing you all Godspeed Somali parents, we are in this fight with you. I imagine a Somali community where within 2 years, the rate of new autism cases has dropped to nothing and the affected children are recovering. This vision can become a reality through your actions.

Additional resources:

The 2008 CDC Vaccine Schedule HERE

The 1983 CDC Vaccine Schedule HERE

My favorite article by a doctor, A User Friendly Vaccine Schedule HERE

J.B. Handley is co-founder of Generation Rescue and contributor to Age of Autism.


Kristin Anne

You hit the nail on the head. 10 years later and the Minnesota Department of Health is still saying the same thing, telling the same lies and following Big Tobacco's playbook. And it works for the masses.

But I hope with JB's new book - How to End the Autism Epidemic - that we're finally at the tipping point.


And this month, the Bruce Ivins mem0rial award goes to the MDH. Honourable mention goes to the CDC. Thankyou to all participants for the hilarity they provide.


Dr Cannell,

I'm just not buying the hypothesis that fish oil is unhealthy. It makes no sense that people in northern climates have lived on fish for centuries, presumably getting plenty of Vitamin D in the process to counteract the lack of sunlight. I can't imagine that those people had high autism rates in the past, or were vitamin D deficient. You should describe some real research before advertising taking processed suppliments from a pharmacy for something that can be gotten from eating fish or consuming fish liver oil.


Call or email Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or Mike Papantonio at Ring of Fire and get this on the radio. Another good choice would be Thom Hartmann's radio program. Contact info below.

Ring of Fire
P.O. Box 12308
Pensacola, FL 32591

Phone: 866-389-FIRE (3473)

Fax: 850-436-6008

Email [email protected]

Thom Hartmann
c/o KPOJ Radio
4949 SW Macadam Ave.
Portland, OR 97239

Email thomhartmann.com

Call the Thom Hartmann Comment and Rant line at 202 536-5306 to leave a recorded message, agree, disagree, sound off - it's all welcome. Keep it shorter than 30 seconds, and know that it may be used on the air.


Dear Dr. John Cannell,

Why don't you just offer the Somali families a free consultation instead of overwhelming the families with your Vitamin D hypothesis. Vitamin D is a big factor in the relation to Autism, however there are many others that we have yet to elucidate. I think a free consultation is the best thing that you can do for these families.

As a parent of a child with Autism I have also noticed that the latino population has been hit hard lately as well but they fear speaking out in fear of retaliation. These families are here illegaly but their children were born here and vaccinated here. Since most cannot speak english and latino doctors that do speak english are hard to find with Autism experience, they are left to their own devices. Its time for all nationalities to stand up and be heard.


Dr Connell - from your (site's) response to the question "Is Autism Iatrogenic":
"Tragically, we relied on medical knowledge instead of human traditions, government recommendations instead of common sense, the latest science instead of basic instincts."

Your reference there is to the tendency today to avoid the sun like the plague, but this statement is so true in a much broader sense.

We've had at least one doctor recommend Cod Liver Oil - which we did for a while with no apparent benefits - your recommendation to avoid this "preformed" vitamin A is interesting and a bit confusing - hope there's more info on your site to expand on this a bit

Thank you for the info and the link.


Wonderful, helpful practical article.Also, what about giving vitamin d supplements to babies and children? If there is some possibility this is part of the problem, this might help also.I am not sure what the correct dosage for a baby would be, though I think there are infant drops out there that contain vitamin D.


I routinely rant and forward articles at work. I think I've at least generated some intellectual curiosity at times, but probably more often have just been politely tolerated. But no story or research article has gotten the kind of reaction this one has.

This is eye-opening.


I would just like to mention that the newer DTaP shot apparently provokes fewer adverse reactions than the DPT shot - according to the book "A Shot in the Dark".

It's really wonderful that you are reaching out to the Somali community in this way!

John Cannell, MD

One thousand IU of vitamin D per day is not enough for most autistic children. The Vitamin D Council's protocol for diagnosing and treating vitamin D deficiency in autistic children is below. Remember, the worst thing that can happen is that children will have stronger bones and fewer influenza infections:

1. Advise parents to stop giving children all preformed vitamin A, such as cod liver oil, and all vitamins or supplements containing retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate. Preformed vitamin A antagonizes the action of vitamin D, probably at the vitamin D receptor site. Beta carotene does not have this same effect but children only need extra beta carotene if their diet is poor in colorful fruits and vegetables, dairy products, or fortified breakfast cereals.

2. Order a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH)D] blood test. Do not order a 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D as it is often elevated in vitamin D deficiency and will mislead you. A home test kit for vitamin D is now available for children. It uses a heel or finger stick, does not require a doctor's visit and results are returned directly to the parents in a few days:

3. If the 25(OH)D level is less than 70 ng/ml, the mid range of American references labs (30 - 100 ng/ml), give your child vitamin D3 supplements, available at any pharmacy. Generally children require 1,000 IU per 25 pounds of body weight per day. However, great individual variation exists and autistic children need to be retested and the dose adjusted about every month until levels are at least 70 ng/ml in any child with autism.

4. Test for 25(OH)D every few months and treat with enough vitamin D until 25(OH)D levels are stable. Some children will require 2,000 - 3,000 IU per 25 pounds of body weight, but frequent 25(OH)D testing will assure proper dosage. Vitamin D toxicity has never been reported, in adults or children, with 25(OH)D levels below 200 ng/ml.

Again, the worse that can happen is the children will have stronger bones and fewer colds and flu.

We believe the key to preventing autism is diagnosing and treating vitamin D deficiency in early pregnancy. Pregnant women can follow the above protocol, as can anyone who no longer wants to be vitamin D deficient.

John Cannell, MD
The Vitamin D Council

Ginger Taylor


Sargent Goodchild

There are some outstanding resources in Minneapolis. One is A Chance to Grow www.actg.org and the other is Personal Resource Strategies www.prsalert.com which is run by Michael Joyce. I hope that you find their information helpful.

In health,
Sargent L. Goodchild, Jr.
Exec. Director
Active Healing, Inc.

CJ's Mommy

I find this post extremely helpful and I'm not an immigrant, I'm a mom, who has been incredibly educated by the contributors of this site... we've been selectively vaccinating and will now be even vigilantly so... i had been doing ONE shot every two months or three months (and our son has really cooperated w/helping to space things out by getting 5th's disease for one scheduled shot appt, a cold for another, it's almost a given he'll be under the weather for a scheduled shot appt) so it looks like he's only going to be getting the remainder of his shots every 6 months. i've gotten a hard time about the titers tests i've asked for.... for some of the "boosters' he's supposed to get... first it was "a titers test isn't accurate till after 15 months" (ok so we'll wait till he's 15 months then) and then it was "well a titer's test isn't always accurate" (didn't have an answer prepared for that one).

he got his final polio two wks ago... and suffered thru a pretty high fever (101.8) altho i was told "thats not very high for a 1 year old", and i was also told "it's probably NOT the shot". uh huh.... i reminded the doc that the last time he had a high fever and i called the emergency after hours number it was after a shot and they told me the same thing....

i think we'll wait till after he's two for the rest of them... and we're doing titers before the rest of them also(i'm tired of the excuses)

i also found the other post about which shots are thimerosal free very helpful, it's nice to know the brand names...

thank you all


Excellent post JB.
Another archived AOA article worth reading is the Brick cluster in NJ. Remember that? Same situation - higher rates of autism there. Health department rushed in to help. What came of it? Nothing. Nothing at all, thanks to the CDC.
Don't let history repeat itself, Somali parents. Make something happen.


9. Never get a vaccine while your child is sick or taking antibiotics

I would have added: and wait until at least 10 days after finishing the anit-biotics. My son went in for one of his vaccines and had an ear infection (which he chronically had from 4 months to about 5 years of age when we cut out dairy -- then none). The Dr. prescribed anti-biotics for 10 days and then gave him the shot on that 10th day. It probably would have been better to get the shot before the anti-biotics.


This is the difference between the Paul Offit's of the world and hte JB Handley's of the world. Offit tears down, decontructs and tries to use the negative to influence people's decisions. JB offers concrete solutions, positive ideas and aims to help people make informed decisions that can help their kids. And Paul Offit makes MONEY off his efforts - JB does this all gratis - actually gratis is incorrect. He does this using his own money and his time, which is valuable. Two men. One is man, one is a MAN.


Anne Dachel

At Saturday's forum in Minneapolis, parents again asked the people in charge of the vaccine program if their vaccines are harming children. Of course they said no.

Everything went as expected.

They did what the CDC's always done:

Make autism sound like a genetic disorder,
Admit that no one knows exactly what causes it and how to cure it,
Show concern while telling the public that they can't tell if more kids really have autism,
Point out the studies that show no link,
Praise the effectiveness of vaccines,
Warn about the death and disease that will result if parents don't vaccinate,
And most of all, pretend that nothing is wrong with having so many kids with autism--Tell everyone that kids like this have always been around.

It's what we expected they'd say. What else could they do? It's years too late to suddenly admit autism is overwhelming a generation of children because of an unchecked and out-of-control vaccine program.

They all went on the record Saturday admitting that they don't have anything for the Somali parents. They publicly refused to consider the claims of parents who say it was the vaccines. Nothing was settled. The parents aren't going to go quietly away. MDH has an epidemic among an immigrant population that they can't explain. Pretending it's not happening is insane. It's only going to get worse for officials.

Anne Dachel
Media editor


I would suggest adding to the list: Do not give your child tylenol before or after any vaccine, or during any illness.

Also, I would strongly suggest that ALL of the Somali kids be immediately tested for mercury toxicity using the DDI hair test and AC counting rules and the French porphyrin test.

I suspect that a good possibility is that many of their mothers had exposures to mercury (and/or other contaminants such as lead) in Somalia. Some of those heavy metals would have been passed on to the children during fetal development. I think there is evidence that mercury and lead exposures decrease the body's ability to excrete these toxins in the future, so the result is that future exposures result in much higher accumulations than in a non-exposed or less exposed individuals. Hence a stronger, swifter reaction to thimerosal or aluminum containing vaccines. Depression of the immune system from mercury exposures shouldn't be overlooked either.

If these kids are poorly nourished, getting lots of vaccines and amalgam dental fillings, and their families are under stress, I think mercury poisoning may almost be inevitable.

Why do I think Somalians might have already had high mercury exposures? See http://tinyurl.com/567ul6

and http://www.afrol.com/articles/16058

I suspect small scale gold-mining using mercury also occurs there though I didn't find info on that when I did a quick google search.

I strongly suspect that all our kids are suffering the consequences of multiple exposures to mercury and other toxins--the thimerosal etc. in vaccines just tip the cart over for many.



Very good article. I am a mother who believes that vaccines contribute to autism. I didn't have my daughter vaccinated, never gave her an antibiotic and never let her eat a dairy product. Yet, she still has a diagnosis of PDD NOS.
Therefore, I would add these things to the list:
Make sure your homes are free of mold and stay away from wireless radiaiton. Use landlines when possible and cut mobile phone use down to a minimum. Don't get WiFi in your homes and consider shielding your children's sleeping areas with aluminum foil or EMF resistant paint.
Bless you all, Somali parents of Minnesota! We're on your side!

Tanners Dad

Unified Front... What a novel idea. Today I pray that we as an entire community can stand with the Courageous Somali Parents. As you said there issues are our issues. I just wonder what the MDH panel went home and talked about at the supper table? Our success will ultimately depend on the relationships we build on a personal level... With our friends, adversaries, and enemies. Tear this wall down!

Maurine Meleck

Having been raised in Minneapolis(with many relatives and friends still there) this event is particularly upsetting to me(for other reasons too). The conference this past weekend was a sham, but again not surprising, given what we all know for so many years about the government's stance on vaccines. I am glad I wasn't there as it would have raised my blood pressure much too high. Bravo to all who attended. I don't know how you did it. Thank you for this article, JB.
Maurine Meleck
South Carolina


I would also add - do not allow any amalgam fillings for the children to that list. Especially the children with autism. My dentist told me that all immigrant children receivng "free" dental care are getting amalgam fillings.

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