All four agencies, backed by extensive research, have confirmed that vaccines are the best method of defense against Covid-19 and contagious variants that can cause severe illness.
But the school is ignoring the advice and guidance from the state and federal governments, as well as the Miami-Dade Health Department, which all urge everyone 16 and older to be vaccinated.
Centner claimed in the letter that “it will be years before we have reliable information regarding the short- and long-term effects of the Covid-19 vaccines.” The FDA issued emergency use authorization for three vaccines after extensive testing showed they were both safe and effective.
The letter makes other unsubstantiated claims about adverse reactions non-vaccinated people could have by “interacting with people who have been vaccinated” that have not been identified in or supported by research by the CDC, FDA, NIH or WHO.
Centner concluded by asking employees to “please wait until the school year ends” to get vaccinated. Teachers who are vaccinated after the school year ends “will not be able to return to school until clinical trials are complete (if a position is still available at that time),” she wrote.
The letter did not specify which clinical trials she meant. Clinical trials in adults were completed for all three vaccines to satisfy the FDA’s emergency use authorization requirements. As part of the process to seek full FDA approval, companies must continue their adult clinical trials for two years and continue to report safety and efficacy data as they get it. Clinical trials in children have recently begun.
She asked employees who were vaccinated before mid-April to report their vaccination status to the school. And faculty and staff who still want to get the vaccine before the end of the school year must immediately alert the school, “as we cannot allow recently vaccinated people to be near our students until more information is known,” Centner wrote.
In a statement to CNN, the Centner Academy said it’s “not 100% sure the Covid injections are safe and there are too many unknown variables for us to feel comfortable at this current time.”
CNN has reached out to school staff and parents of students for comment on the letter and is waiting to hear back.
The school says it supports ‘medical freedom from mandated vaccines’
The school, which pivoted to online learning in March 2020 but reopened its facilities in September, supports “medical freedom from mandated vaccines,” according to a post on its website. That post, too, cites unsubstantiated claims about vaccines in general.
A CDC study shows teachers can drive school Covid-19 cases
At the time, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the findings show how important it is for schools to strictly adhere to the CDC’s five key Covid-19 mitigation strategies, in addition to highlighting “the importance of scaling up vaccination efforts across the country, including the continued need to prioritize teachers and other school staff for vaccination.”
A crucial part of in-school safety depends on teachers and staff getting vaccinated, said Dr. Nathaniel Beers, a pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital and president at HSC Health Care System, a system of pediatric hospitals, home health and rehab centers in Washington, DC.
“We know that schools are not a no-risk zone,” Beers said. “What we also know is that the vaccine is an important strategy for reducing that risk in school buildings.”