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Measles outbreak highlights Florida's fringe agenda

By Rebekah Jones

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases known to man. Both the CDC and the WHO advise those who have been exposed to quarantine for 21 days, as symptoms typically don’t appear until 10-14 days after exposure.

Measles can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, permanent disfigurement and death.

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For pregnant women, measles exposure can result in miscarriage, premature birth, and serious birth defects. Women who are already pregnant cannot get vaccinated, and oftentimes women are not aware that they need an updated measles shot.

Florida’s measles outbreak at a Broward County elementary school should have been met with swift and extensive measures. 

Instead, parents were told by the state’s Surgeon General that students could return to school as normal – even those who were unvaccinated or potentially exposed. 

As I told CBS News, what’s happening in Florida – and to a lesser extent the rest of the country – is the predictable outcome of mainstreaming fringe anti-vaccine views.

In Florida, because of policies enacted by the far-right governor, vaccination levels have been steadily falling during the last several years for a variety of infectious diseases.

The target inoculation rate to keep measles from becoming a full outbreak is 95%.

In 2022, the last year for which Florida published data, the statewide inoculation rate for measles was at 91.7% – down from 93.3% the year before.

Only 18 of Florida’s 67 counties meet the 95% threshold now.

Several counties have fallen farther behind – with Duval, Escambia, Gadsden, Indian River, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Putnam and Sarasota all falling below 90%. Gadsden has the lowest compliance rate at 81%.

Additionally, Florida saw one of the largest decreases in vaccine compliance last year, according to the CDC.

Only 0.4% of Florida students have permanent medical exemptions, but a whopping 3.5% have permanent “religious” exemptions (3.7% in Broward).

The Florida Department of Health has been getting away with fabricating data, misrepresenting metrics, and pushing conspiratorial disinformation and policies for years.

They should have been held accountable in May 2020, and then every day afterward.

As a side note: Mississippi has the highest vaccine compliance rate at 98.4% – largely because they are only one of two states that do not allow exemptions based on religious or philosophical grounds. This is one of the few good stats for the state.

What you can do:

The Public Health Accreditation Board warned Florida in 2021 that not reporting information or the evidence from which policy decisions were being made could result in suspension of their accreditation.

Since that time, Florida has lost a civil case regarding the release of COVID data, and remains entangled in several others. 

Investigations determined the state fabricated data and findings related to the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, and has continued to promote anti-vaccine conspiracies. 

You can also use the prepared information below when completing your complaint, or add your own resources, language and summaries.

Overall complaint summary:

The Florida Department of Health has exhibited a pattern of misleading the public, fabricating evidence and data, and refusal to follow evidence-based procedures and policies. During COVID-19 and the current measles outbreak, FDOH has refused to share data and engage with partners, including universities, as well as openly misleading the public in research, reporting and policy regarding vaccine safety. The FDOH still refuses to comply with PHAB’s measures regarding collecting and sharing data with the public, and continues to promote policies fundamentally opposite of basic public health principles, endangering the welfare of the people.

Complaint outcome sought:

Because of the FDOH’s failure to adhere to the practices required to maintain accreditation with your board, PHAB must rescind its accreditation in full and bar the department from reaccreditation until it demonstrates its commitment to upholding simple public health principles in compliance with PHAB’s measures.

Accreditation Standards of Concern: 

Standard 1.3 – Failure to analyze public health data, share findings and use results to improve population health.

Standard 2.1 – Anticipate, prevent, and mitigate health threats through surveillance and investigation of health problems and environmental hazards

Standard 2.2 – Prepare for and respond to emergencies.

Domain 5 – Create, champion, and implement policies, plans, and laws that impact health.

Measure 6.1.4 A – Ensure investigation or enforcement activities are carried out collaboratively and equitably

Standard 9.2 – Use and contribute to developing research, evidence, practice-based insights, and other forms of information for decision making.


Standards 1.2.1.A, 1.3.1 A, 1.3.2 A, 5.1.1 A: Misrepresenting data and analysis of COVID-19 data for the purpose of reopening the state, misleading the public on internal analysis which showed opposite results of what was being reported through official capacities:

Standards 5.1.1 A:

Misrepresenting data and analysis of COVID-19 vaccine safety specifically to promote anti-vaccine policies:

2024 Measles outbreak:

Standards 5.1.1 A, 5.2.3. A, 6.1.4 A, 9.2.1 A

Failure to share data/ analysis supporting the decision to allow students exposed to measles to return to school without the CDC-mandated 21 day isolation period;

Failure to address factors that contribute to specific populations’ higher health risks, including vaccination and isolation from measles exposure;

Failure to implement CDC and WHO recommended isolation and vaccination policies in response to measles outbreak;

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