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CBS News Miami looks at South Florida school vaccination rates, health concerns

CBS News Miami looks at school vaccination rates in South Florida
CBS News Miami looks at school vaccination rates in South Florida 03:56

MIAMI - CBS News Miami Investigations dove deeper into the health risks measles and other diseases pose to our community. They can easily spread among unvaccinated people.  

Our national investigative correspondent, Stephen Stock, showed the concern following outbreaks in two states.  

Here in South Florida, CBS News Miami begins to look at school vaccination rates.  

"68, 57, that's pretty low," said Dr. Hanadys Ale with Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital.

She was looking through Broward County's school-by-school vaccination rates for private, public, and charter schools. She's a pediatric immunologist specialist.

"Really concerned because there are places in which the percentage is so low," said Dr. Ale.

Florida mandates that public and private school students comply with the required vaccine schedule to enroll in classes, with exemptions for medical or religious reasons.  

CBS News Miami reporter Joe Gorchow asked Dr. Ale if the rates she looked at in Broward Schools are similar to playing the game Jenga. "You keep pulling pieces out of the Jenga, and all of a sudden, if enough people do not get vaccinated," Gorchow said before Dr. Ale chimed in.

"Yeah, everything can go down," said Dr. Ale. "And then, we will start seeing the comeback of diseases we believe are eradicated, like measles."

Measles is a potentially deadly and highly contagious childhood virus that causes a telltale rash. The Centers for Disease Control found 58 measles cases in the U.S. last year. 

According to Broward County Public Schools data for this academic year, 23 schools at the kindergarten level fall below 80% of fully vaccinated students. Homeschooling, charter, and private schools rank in the bottom nine out of 165 on the list.  

None of the schools reached herd immunity. The CDC says communities need 95 percent or higher vaccination rates to reach the threshold.  

"When we achieve herd immunity, we kind of like put a stop to the transmission of the disease," explained Dr. Ale. "And then we protect the vulnerable."

"Not every parent is going to want to vaccinate their kid," shared Alina Diaz, a mother of a two-year-old boy. "I can't force you."

We met Alina Diaz at the park in Pembroke Pines. She was there with her son.

She hopes to protect him from highly contagious childhood viruses.

"It helps him protect him from diseases and sicknesses," said Diaz on why she chose to vaccinate her son.

Across the way, on another side of the playground, we meet more moms who share the same sentiment.

"They protect my son," said a woman who goes by Natalia. "Prevent a lot of diseases."

Not every parent we spoke with felt the recommended vaccines were necessary. But they declined to share their views on camera.

Gorchow did ask Dr. Ale how she approaches discussing this topic with parents who are hesitant to vaccinate their children.   

"I tackle it on to that specific concern," said Dr. Ale. "I think now, with so much access to"so many resources and so easily on your phone, people are reading things that may not be scientifically based or have strong evidence, and they're making their own assumptions. That's why I love when they bring their concerns to me because I'm able to respond to those."

If you're looking for a vaccine site to vaccinate your child, please visit the following links in this article. We have information for Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital Mobile Health Center and Miami-Dade County Public Schools "vaccine van."

Miami-Dade Public Schools provided us with their vaccination rate list.  Less than 85% of enrolled students met the general immunization requirements to attend classes. 14,396 received temporary medical exemptions.  Another 12,811 students received a medical or permanent religious exemption.

2024 Feb UM Vaccinations Flyer Final by Alfred Charles on Scribd

Click here for Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital

Click here for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Vaccine Van

Read the exception - Immunization Compliance Report: 

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