Superintendent says 3 percent of students are unvaccinated at Broward school with measles cases

Superintendent says 3 percent of students are unvaccinated at Broward school with measles cases

The number of measles cases continues to rise at Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston. Concerns over the outbreak have prompted discussions about potential measures to contain the spread of the highly contagious virus.

State authorities have the authority to request that parents of unvaccinated children refrain from sending them to school, and remote learning options may need to be considered. Recently, the school district shared a letter from the Department of Health with parents and guardians, signed by Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo. The letter recommended that individuals without vaccination history or prior infection stay home for up to 21 days, the period during which the virus can be transmitted.

Despite the ongoing increase in measles cases, the school has remained open. However, the absentee rate has risen significantly, with more than 20% of students and six staff members absent on a recent Tuesday. Broward Superintendent Peter Licata visited the school to reassure parents and address concerns, emphasizing the safety measures in place and the importance of vaccination.

Licata disclosed that out of 1,067 students, 33 lack the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine for various reasons, highlighting the need for vaccination compliance. While Florida public schools mandate two doses of the MMR vaccine, exemptions can be sought on religious or medical grounds. The recent cases at Manatee Bay Elementary occur amidst a global resurgence of measles cases linked to declining vaccination rates.

It remains uncertain whether the school will be closed if the number of cases continues to rise. Dr. Ron Ford from Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital stressed the importance of vaccination in preventing disease transmission, particularly among vulnerable populations like unvaccinated children.

Broward County School Board members expressed disappointment over the response from the Department of Health, urging decisive action to prevent further spread of the disease. Concerns persist over the potential severity of measles, including its capacity to cause brain damage or fatality, underscoring the importance of proactive measures to protect public health.