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As a Florida elementary school tries to contain a growing measles outbreak, the state’s top health official is giving advice that runs counter to science and may leave unvaccinated children at risk of contracting one of the most contagious pathogens on Earth, clinicians and public health experts...
As a Florida elementary school tries to contain a growing measles outbreak, the state’s top health official is giving advice that runs counter to science and may leave unvaccinated children at risk of contracting one of the most contagious pathogens on Earth, clinicians and public health experts said.
Instead of following what he acknowledged was the “normal” recommendation that parents keep unvaccinated children home for up to 21 days - the incubation period for measles - Ladapo said the state health department “is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance.”
The controversial move by Ladapo follows a pattern of bucking public health norms, particularly when it comes to vaccines.
Ben Hoffman, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said Florida’s guidance flies in the face of long-standing and widely accepted public health guidance for measles, which can result in severe complications, including death.
“It runs counter to everything I have ever heard and everything that I have read,” Hoffman said. “It runs counter to our policy. It runs counter to what the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] would recommend.”
Measles outbreaks have been on the rise in recent years. So far in 2024, at least 26 cases in at least 12 states have been reported to the CDC, about double the number at this point last year. In addition to the six cases confirmed in the Florida school, cases have been reported in Arizona, California, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Experts say the outbreaks are linked to the growing number of parents seeking exemptions from childhood vaccinations in recent years following political backlash to coronavirus pandemic mandates and rampant misinformation about the safety of vaccines.
“The reason why there is a measles outbreak in Florida schools is because too many parents have not had their children protected by the safe and effective measles vaccine,” said John P. Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “And why is that? It’s because anti-vaccine sentiment in Florida comes from the top of the public health food-chain: Joseph Ladapo.”
Paul Offit, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said Ladapo’s failure to urge vaccination endangers children.
“Is he trying to prove that measles isn’t a contagious disease when the data are clear that it is the most contagious vaccine-preventable disease, far more contagious than influenza or covid?” Offit wrote in an email.
Poor kids stuck with stupid parents.