CDC new guidance: Schools should promote vaccines to prevent spread of infections

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Student wearing mask. Credit: Stock photo/Getty Images.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance Friday to help schools prevent the spread of infections in the next school year. The recommendations include procedures that Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo have continuously trashed, such as promoting vaccines and wearing masks.

When it comes to vaccines, the CDC suggests that schools promote their safety and effectiveness, offer a workplace vaccination program for staff and host vaccination clinics for students. During times when respiratory disease spread is high, the guidance states that schools may want to choose indoor mask-wearing as part of their response to an outbreak if local laws permit that.

“CDC has updated actions schools can take to prevent germs from spreading and keep kids healthy and learning,” said CDC Director Mandy Cohen, in a press release. “This update puts lessons learned into actionable steps schools can follow to keep our kids, teachers, and school staff safe.”

Meanwhile, both the governor and the surgeon general in Florida have bashed the CDC. In 2023, DeSantis signed a law prohibiting mask mandates in government entities, and the Florida Department of Health under Ladapo’s command recommended that people under 65 do not get a COVID-19 updated vaccine.

Recently, Ladapo appeared on “I’m Right with Jesse Kelly,” a conservative talk show, where he said doctors are “very trustworthy people, except when they’re under a spell. In this case, we’re talking vaccine worship.”

“Donald Trump was maybe right. It might have been safer to inject a little bleach than the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines that they forced on people,” he said in that same interview.

Since the beginning of the year, the health department has reported 23,156 COVID-19 cases among people 19 and younger.

The CDC guidance issued on Friday is not specifically targeted at COVID-19. Instead, they are precautions schools can take to navigate any infectious diseases, including the measles outbreak that occurred in an elementary school in Broward County in February.

While measles spread at that school — Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston, just west of Fort Lauderdale — Ladapo told parents they could decide whether or not their children go to school.

DeSantis defended Ladapo after he faced backlash for his actions during the measles outbreak, saying that the surgeon general and the health department had handled the situation appropriately during a news conference in Orlando in late March.

Additionally, the CDC guidance Friday includes suggestions for cleaning frequently used surfaces, teaching students to wash their hands and cover their mouths when coughing, identifying when students and staff should stay home if they are sick and other procedures.

“Schools provide safe, supportive environments, routines, and important services that support student health and well-being,” the guidance states. “Schools should have plans in place that can help reduce illness and illness-related absenteeism by preventing the spread of common infections. This guidance is designed to maximize school attendance and its benefits for all students, while also preventing the spread of infectious diseases.”

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