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Miami private school, citing debunked information, asks staff not to get COVID vaccine

One of the Centner Academy's co-founders in a letter said it is the school's policy not to employ anyone who has taken the vaccine.
Credit: AP
A COVID-19 vaccination card is seen with the date, vaccine type and batch number is seen at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site at the God's Battalion of Prayer Church, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

MIAMI — A private school in Miami recently asked its staff members who have yet to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to hold off until the end of the school year. It, too, made mention of a policy not to employ anyone who already is vaccinated.

CBS Miami obtained a copy of the Centner Academy letter that was sent to parents, which shared inaccurate information about the COVID-19 vaccines. It called the vaccine "experimental" and mentioned "tens of thousands of women all over the world" said to be reporting "adverse reproductive issues" from being in close contact with someone who is vaccinated.

The currently available vaccines in the U.S., including those produced by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have been authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration. They are safe and effective following trials of tens of thousands of people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those trials have shown that most people who receive a vaccine were prevented from getting COVID-19 and helped protect people from getting severely ill.

The Michigan-based Henry Ford Health System recently published an article about vaccines and reproductive health, attempting to calm fears that it is safe to become pregnant after getting vaccinated. There is no evidence, the hospital system wrote, that COVID-19 vaccines are causing early pregnancy loss or fertility problems in women or men.

What is true, however, is that unvaccinated pregnant women have an increased risk of severe illness due to COVID-19, doctors said. 

"If you become sick with the virus while pregnant, your chances of needing intensive care and a ventilator are higher. This can put your unborn child at higher risk for a preterm birth. Risks are even greater for pregnant women of color," according to the Henry Ford Health System.

There is "no way for a COVID-19 vaccinated person to 'shed vaccine,'" the CDC said in an email to Reuters about the topic of someone who received a shot to affect another person. The agency said vaccines help to teach cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response for protecting a person from becoming infected. Those "instructions" to help a cell get broken down during the process.

The school and its cofounder, Leila Centner, provided no evidence in its letter to back up the claims.

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Centner required employees to fill out a "confidential" form to say whether they had received a vaccine, according to The New York Times. If a person responded inaccuracy, the school could take legal actions, the news outlet reported, citing a letter sent to staff.

The Times reported Centner and her husband, David Centner, recently welcomed antivaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak to students. Kennedy was banned from Instagram earlier this year for spreading vaccine misinformation.

In a statement to CBS Miami, the school reiterated inaccurate information that had been sent to parents: "We’re doing what we think is in the best interest of the children because children shouldn’t be around teachers who are vaccinated."

During a May press conference, DeSantis also responded to the alleged action of the private school saying bills he has signed did not discuss or get into employment mandates for COVID-19 vaccines.

"My view would be it wouldn't be appropriate to mandate or prohibit in either direction," he said

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