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Anti-vaccine school in Florida tells kids to stay home if they get a COVID shot


Centner Academy private school building is seen in Miami's Design District in Miami on April 27, 2021.
Enlarge / Centner Academy private school building is seen in Miami’s Design District in Miami on April 27, 2021.

An anti-vaccine private school in Miami, Florida, is requiring students who receive a COVID-19 vaccine to stay home for 30 days after each shot, according to local news outlet WSVN.

In a letter to parents, the school once again spread vaccine misinformation, falsely claiming that COVID-19 vaccines can cause “potential transmission or shedding onto others.” No COVID-19 vaccines in use in the US include a live virus; there are only mRNA-based vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) and a nonreplicating viral vector-based vaccine (J&J) in use here. These COVID-19 vaccines do not cause “shedding” or pose any risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to others.

The school, the Centner Academy, is well-known for its anti-vaccine rhetoric and vaccine misinformation. The academy notes that it is against all vaccine mandates and does not require any immunizations for its students, citing “freedom of choice.” Without evidence, it links routine, safe, and life-saving childhood vaccinations to the rise of a variety of health conditions such as diabetes and offers to help parents obtain exemptions from state vaccine requirements. Like many anti-vaccine groups, Centner plays up fears of harms and falsely suggests that there have been insufficient safety studies on vaccines. Centner’s tuition ranges from $15,000 to $30,000 per year.

In April, Centner made national headlines after telling teachers that they would not be allowed contact with students if they received a COVID-19 vaccine. Again, the school cited entirely false claims about “shedding.” Centner’s co-founders, Leila and David Centner, also discouraged mask use at the school and hosted Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is well-known for spouting anti-vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Like many anti-vaccine groups, Centner claims that it is not against vaccination. “We’re not anti-vaxxers; we’re in favor of safe vaccines,” Centner employee Joshua Hills told WSVN in April. “Are these vaccines—is this injection—100 percent safe? As a parent of two children that go to this school, I’m not willing to take the chance on a question mark.”

In its latest letter to parents, Centner called COVID-19 vaccines “experimental,” despite the fact that they have been under development for decades and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has earned full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

“Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free,” Centner wrote in the letter.



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