(CNN) — A Miami private school asked its employees to wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine until the end of the school year, but still warned that if they do so, they will not be allowed to return next year, the school told staff. this month.
The CEO and co-founder of the school, Leila Centner, sent a letter to Centner Academy faculty and staff mentioning unsubstantiated claims about COVID-19 vaccines that contradict a broad test set on the safety and efficacy of vaccines Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
All four agencies, backed by extensive research, have confirmed that vaccines are the best defense against COVID-19 and the contagious variants that can cause serious illness.
But the school has ignored advice and guidance from the state and federal governments, as well as the Miami-Dade Department of Health, urging everyone 16 and older to get vaccinated.
Centner said in the letter that “it will be years before we have reliable information on the short- and long-term effects of covid-19 vaccines.” The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for three vaccines after extensive testing showed them to be safe and effective.
The letter makes other unsubstantiated claims about adverse reactions that unvaccinated people may have when “interacting with vaccinated people” that have not been identified or supported by CDC, FDA, NIH, or WHO research.
Centner concluded by asking employees to “please wait until the school year is over” to get vaccinated. Teachers who are vaccinated after the end of the school year “will not be able to return to school until the clinical trials are over (if there is still a position available at that time),” he wrote.
The letter did not specify which clinical trials it was referring to. Clinical trials in adults were completed for all three vaccines to satisfy FDA emergency use authorization requirements. As part of the process to obtain full FDA approval, companies must continue their adult clinical trials for two years. They should also continue to report safety and efficacy data as they obtain it. Clinical trials in children started recently.
The principal asked employees who were vaccinated before mid-April to inform the school of their vaccination status.
And teachers and staff who still want to get vaccinated before the school year is out should immediately notify the school, “as we cannot allow recently vaccinated people to be around our students until more information is known,” Centner wrote.
In a statement to CNN, the Centner Academy said that it is “not 100% sure that covid vaccines are safe and there are too many unknown variables for us to feel comfortable at the moment.” CNN has contacted school staff and the students’ parents for comment on the letter and is awaiting a response.
The school says it supports “medical freedom from mandatory vaccinations”
When it opened in 2019, the Centner Academy, co-founded by Centner and her husband technology executive, David, described herself as the «first school of happiness«, With an emphasis on mindfulness. Nearly 300 students attend the school, which runs from preschool through high school, with tuition peaking at $ 29,850 before fees, according to the school’s website.
The school, which adopted online learning in March 2020 but reopened its facilities in September, supports “medical freedom from mandatory vaccinations,” according to a post on its website. That post also cites unsubstantiated claims about vaccines in general.
According to the CDC, mandatory vaccinations are considered necessary to prevent the transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases among school-age children. States and local governments decide which immunizations are required of students, and in Florida include vaccines against polio, hepatitis B and measles, mumps and rubella, among others.
Many private and public universities are taking the opposite approach to Centner Academy, requiring students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to return to campus in the fall. Universities such as Duke, Syracuse, New York University, and the University of California school system have made the vaccinations are mandatory for students planning to attend face-to-face classes.
CDC Study Shows Teachers Can Drive Covid-19 Cases in Schools
Research suggests that while face-to-face classes can be safe if teachers and students wear masks and maintain physical distancing, teachers can also fuel school-related COVID-19 outbreaks. A CDC study published at the end of February investigated the outbreaks in six Georgia public elementary schools and found that teacher-to-student transmission, which likely originated when educators first spread the virus to each other, accounted for half of school-associated COVID-19 cases.
At the time, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the findings show the importance of schools strictly adhering to the CDC’s five key strategies for mitigating COVID-19. He also highlighted “the importance of scaling up vaccination efforts across the country, including the continued need to prioritize teachers and other school personnel for vaccination.”
A crucial part of school safety depends on getting vaccinated by teachers and staff, said Dr. Nathaniel Beers, pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital and president of HSC Health Care System, a system of pediatric hospitals, home health and rehabilitation centers in the city of Washington.
“We know that schools are not a no-risk zone,” Beers said. “What we also know is that the vaccine is an important strategy to reduce that risk in school buildings.”
In its guidelines for the safe reopening of schools, the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages school districts to provide an adequate supply of vaccines to faculty, staff, and, when eligible, students.
It is especially important that teachers and school staff get vaccinated against covid-19 to prevent the transmission of the contagious variant B.1.1.7, which appears to have a higher risk of spread among young people compared to the original new coronavirus, Beers said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism