Florida schools see measles cases grow, urge vaccination for ‘public health threat’

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A measles outbreak in Florida has health officials urging vaccinations.

On Tuesday, Florida Department of Health Officials confirmed another measles case in Broward County, bringing the total number of cases in that county to nine. Of them, seven cases were from Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston, WSVN-TV reports. 

“As of now, all confirmed cases for Broward County Public Schools are specific to Manatee Bay Elementary with no other district schools impacted,” Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Peter Licata said during a press conference.

AMID FLORIDA MEASLES OUTBREAK, SURGEON GENERAL LETS PARENTS DECIDE WHETHER TO SEND UNVACCINATED KIDS TO SCHOOL

One measles case has also been reported in Polk County. 

Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz held her own press conference Tuesday, when she called on Gov. Ron. DeSantis to fire the state’s Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo after he issued a letter to parents Friday deferring them “to make decisions about school attendance” amid the outbreak. 

measles outbreak skin

A photo illustration shows the skin of a patient afflicted with measles. (iStock)

“I want to make clear today that our state leaders our failing us on this front,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Measles is a public health threat to Florida and so is Joe Ladapo.”

Typical guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is for unvaccinated children who have not had the measles to stay home for up to 21 days in the event of a potential exposure at school.  

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“However, due to the high immunity rate in the community, as well as the burden on families and educational cost of healthy children missing school, DOH is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance,” Ladapo’s letter stated.  

MMR vaccine

A measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. (iStock)

Deferring to parents of unvaccinated children is sparking criticism from doctors in Florida and around the country, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Rana Alissa, the academy’s Florida vice president, said on Friday that the state should follow the CDC guidelines “for the safety of our kids.” 

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Allowing unvaccinated children to attend during the outbreak not only endangers them, but others who might have compromised immune systems and could later catch it from them, she said, according to The Associated Press.

“When you have an outbreak, to contain it you have to follow the public health and safety recommendations, not give people a choice,” she said. “Frankly, giving people a choice is what got us here.”

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo

Amid measles outbreaks in various parts of the U.S., Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo has issued guidance to parents regarding kids’ school attendance. He also said, “This recommendation may change as epidemiological investigations continue.” (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images)

People who have had the full series of the measles, mumps and rubella immunization or who have had a prior infection are 98% protected against the highly contagious virus, the doctor noted.

Those who do not have immunity have a 90% chance of contracting measles.

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About 30% of students at Manatee Bay Elementary are unvaccinated, according to WSVN. 

The school district is urging all unvaccinated students to get the measles vaccine, the media outlet reports, adding that 82 students were absent from school on Tuesday. 

Fox News Digital’s Melissa Rudy and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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