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Surgeon general lets parents decide whether to send unvaccinated kids to school amid Florida measles outbreak

Amidst measles outbreaks in various parts of the U.S., the Florida surgeon general has offered guidance to parents concerning their children’s school attendance.

In a letter addressed to parents on Friday, Dr. Joseph Ladapo stated that the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) “is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance.”

This decision follows the identification of a cluster of measles cases at Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston, Florida.

The standard advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that unvaccinated children who have not had the measles should stay home for up to 21 days in the event of potential exposure at school.

“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.

“This recommendation may change as epidemiological investigations continue.”

Dr. Ladapo emphasized that individuals who have completed the full series of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) immunization or who have had a prior infection are 98% protected against the highly contagious virus.

For those without immunity, there is a 90% chance of contracting measles.

“If someone in your household contracts measles, all members of the household should consider themselves exposed and monitor symptoms,” Ladapo advised in the letter.

While he recommended that students with symptoms should stay home from school, Dr. Ladapo also highlighted the common signs and symptoms of measles, including a rash on the face, neck, and body; high fever; cough; runny nose; and red, watery eyes.

“All children presenting with symptoms of illness should not attend school until symptoms have fully subsided without medication,” he added.

The Florida Department of Health’s website lists two doses of the MMR vaccine among the vaccine requirements for children entering, attending, or transferring to public and non-public schools for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Dr. Marc Siegel, a clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, emphasized the effectiveness of the measles vaccine, especially when two shots are administered.

“At a time when there’s a resurgence of measles in the world and travel is not restricted, and people are coming into this country with measles, it’s extremely important that our children be vaccinated against it,” Siegel emphasized.

However, Dr. Siegel disagreed with Dr. Ladapo’s guidance to not require unvaccinated children to stay at home, stating that measles is highly contagious and poses significant risks.

Dr. Brett Osborn, a Florida neurosurgeon and longevity expert, echoed these concerns, emphasizing the importance of vaccination and the risks associated with measles outbreaks.

As of Friday, there have been 35 measles cases reported in U.S. states, according to the CDC.

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