MIAMI — A private school founded by an anti-vaccination activist in South Florida has warned teachers and staff against taking the COVID-19 vaccine, saying it will not employ anyone who has received the shot.
The Centner Academy in Miami sent a notice to parents on Monday informing them of a new policy for its two campuses for about 300 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Teachers or staff who have already taken the vaccine were told to continue reporting to school but to stay separated from students.
Co-founder Leila Centner told employees in a letter last week that she made the policy decision with a “very heavy heart.” Centner asked those who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine to wait until the end of the school year, and even then recommended holding off.
Centner stood by the decision Tuesday in a statement sent to The Associated Press, which featured the biologically impossible claim that unvaccinated women have experienced miscarriages and other reproductive problems just by standing in proximity to vaccinated people.
Cox also added that vaccines have not caused miscarriages in the people who got them during pregnancy.
The Florida Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment on the school’s stance on the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Taraneh Shirazian, a gynecologist at New York University’s Langone Health, said misinformation circulating on social can erode trust as demand for the vaccine sags.
“These myths are extremely damaging because they create doubt in the public at a time when everyone eligible should be getting vaccinated,” Shirazian said.
Centner and her husband David Centner started the school in 2019 after moving to Miami from New York. The school’s website promotes “medical freedom” from vaccines and offers to help parents opt out of vaccines that are otherwise required for students in Florida.
Earlier this month, Centner criticized measures by the CDC to curb the spread of the virus, and said her school went against the guidelines from the moment it reopened in September.