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Tags: florida | parental choice | school | measles

Florida Allows Parental Choice on School Amid Measles Outbreak

By    |   Friday, 23 February 2024 07:40 PM EST

Amid a measles outbreak in Florida, heightened concerns over vaccine hesitancy have prompted state officials to reconsider policies regarding parental choice on school attendance, CNN reported.

The resurgence of measles, a highly contagious disease, has underscored the urgency of vaccination efforts, with health experts emphasizing the importance of immunization to prevent further spread.

Dr. George Rust, a prominent family physician and public health specialist, had previously warned of the mounting risk posed by vaccine hesitancy in the state. Now, his apprehensions have materialized as a cluster of at least six measles cases emerged within a week at an elementary school in Weston, amplifying calls for decisive action to address the public health crisis.

Rust, who serves as a professor at Florida State University College of Medicine and directs the university's Center for Medicine and Public Health, emphasized the severity of measles, stating that "kids who are not vaccinated if they're exposed to measles, 90% of them will get measles. So, it's a highly infectious disease, very contagious."

In response to the outbreak, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo issued a letter to parents and guardians, advising those exposed to measles to stay home for up to 21 days, the incubation period for the virus.

However, the letter defers the decision regarding school attendance to parents or guardians, contradicting guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which mandates the exclusion of unvaccinated children from school during outbreaks.

Rust expressed concern over this approach, noting that while it grants parents autonomy over unvaccinated children, it simultaneously limits choices for those who seek protection for their children from the infection.

Measles, a highly contagious disease, can lead to severe complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis, and in rare cases, death. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, and a characteristic rash of red spots.

Vaccination remains the most effective preventive measure against measles, with two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine being about 97% effective.

Despite the effectiveness of vaccines, immunization rates have fallen below the federal target of 95%, increasing the risk of measles outbreaks. Rust attributed this decline to factors such as vaccine hesitancy and disruptions in vaccination schedules during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resurgence of measles is not limited to Florida, with cases reported in multiple states across the country. Dr. Katherine Baumgarten of Ochsner Health in New Orleans highlighted the concerning decrease in vaccination rates, attributing it to vaccine hesitancy and disruptions in vaccination schedules.

"Unfortunately, we've seen a decrease in the overall vaccination rate for measles as well as other diseases. This is very concerning and can most likely be attributed to children falling behind on the scheduled childhood vaccines through the recent pandemic and overall vaccine hesitancy in recent years," Baumgarten said. "With the decrease in vaccination rate, the highly contagious measles virus has reappeared and could spread through the general public among those unvaccinated."

The measles virus, highly contagious and capable of lingering in the air for up to two hours, poses a significant public health threat, particularly in communities with low vaccination rates.

Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Amid a measles outbreak in Florida, heightened concerns over vaccine hesitancy have prompted state officials to reconsider policies regarding parental choice on school attendance, CNN reported.
florida, parental choice, school, measles
512
2024-40-23
Friday, 23 February 2024 07:40 PM
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