Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Measles Redux in Florida

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread   Examples include measlesCOVID, flu, and polio.

Ron DeSantis's surgeon general is notorious in this respect.

 Los Angeles Times editorial notes that measles is extremely contagious and potentially deadly.

So it’s especially disheartening to observe the new measles cases in Floridaeight and growing at last count. It’s not the biggest measles outbreak in recent years, but the ho-hum attitude of the state’s top public health official, Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, is deeply troubling.
Most of the cases so far have been among students at an elementary school in Broward County. But one is a preschooler — an extremely dangerous age for complications — whose connection to the school is unclear. Something like this was bound to happen. Measles is infectious from four days before the telltale rash appears to four days after. That means parents often don’t know when their child might be infected and capable of transmitting the virus to others in and out of school.
Florida has a reasonable law requiring vaccination for children to attend private or public school. Unlike California, which allows exemptions only for children with legitimate health reasons, Florida lets parents opt out for religious beliefs, a common loophole throughout the country. And the vaccination rates at the elementary school in question was higher than the national average, at 97%.

The problem in quelling this outbreak, though, is the lackadaisical attitude of Ladapo, who has earned notoriety by promoting COVID-19 vaccine skepticism. Last month, he called for a halt to using mRNA vaccines to fight COVID-19. Still it was shocking that in the midst of the outbreak, he ignored the public health standard set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which calls for isolating unvaccinated people for 21 days after possible exposure, and is allowing parents to decide whether to send their unvaccinated kids to school. He didn’t even encourage parents of unvaccinated children to get a quick, preventive dose.

Michael Hiltzik at LAT:

Ladapo was installed as surgeon general by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, largely because he mouthed the same propaganda opposing anti-COVID measures, including the vaccines, as the governor. DeSantis hasn’t spoken in public about the measles outbreak, but make no mistake: He deserves equal blame for the consequences.

To say that Ladapo’s advisory left physicians and epidemiologists aghast would be a massive understatement. Allowing unimmunized children to go to school where they could be exposed to measles contradicts every responsible recommendation from medical science.

Ladapo tried to justify the decision to let unimmunized children exposed to measles go to school by asserting that the vaccination rate is high enough.

But as epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina observed on her blog, Your Local Epidemiologist, while the vaccination rate in Florida is just over 90%, that’s “not high enough — because measles is so contagious, the threshold for herd immunity against measles is 95%. This means there are pockets in the school, other schools, and a community that measles could burn through.”