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Health officials offer MMR vaccines at Broward school with measles cases

A vial of a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is seen in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Friday, May 17, 2019. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023 that measles deaths globally spiked by more than 40% last year. The number of cases also rose by nearly 20% after immunization levels dropped to their lowest in 15 years during the COVID pandemic.
This is a vial of a measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine. Florida health department officials say anyone who has received the full series of MMR shots is 98% protected from the disease.

The county schools superintendent says 33 of 1,067 Manatee Bay Elementary students did not have the MMR vaccine "for various reasons."

Health officials were expected at an elementary school in Broward County on Wednesday to offer the MMR vaccine in the wake of six reported measles cases at Manatee Bay Elementary.

The MMR vaccine, for measles, mumps and rubella, is available to anyone who needs them. The vaccinations are part of the county school district’s response to the outbreak at the Weston School.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that can lead to complications including brain damage, deafness and, in rare cases, death, according to the Florida Department of Health.

"Currently there are 33 of 1,067 Manatee Bay students that do not have an MMR vaccine … for various reasons," Broward schools Superintendent Peter Licata said.

Health department officials said anyone who has received the full series of MMR shots is 98% protected. People who are unvaccinated or have compromised immune systems are most at risk.

Florida health officials have warned that vaccination rates among children have dropped in recent years, with more parents opting out.

The Manatee Bay outbreak began Friday, when one student contracted the disease. Four others got sick over the weekend, and a sixth case was confirmed Tuesday.

The school was cleaned over the weekend. On Tuesday, as students returned to school after Presidents Day, there were a reported 200 absences.

The Broward health department said it issued a measles health advisory and was working with the district and hospitals to identify contacts at risk of transmission. Those people may be candidates for post-exposure treatments.

On Tuesday, John Sullivan, the district’s chief communications and legislative affairs officer, thanked the Broward health department for its help in a social media post.

“They have worked tirelessly for our students and staff since the onset of the measles at the school,” he wrote in a post on X.

As Broward addresses the local outbreak, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website listed at least 20 measles cases in 11 other states, as of Wednesday.

The most prominent symptom of measles is a rash on the face and neck that can spread to the rest of the body. Prior to the rash, symptoms can include high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.

If you notice any of symptoms, contact your health care provider to receive instructions on how to safely seek medical attention without exposing other patients, health officials said. Do not abruptly visit a provider without contacting them ahead of time.

Information from WLRN’s Kate Payne and Health News Florida’s Rick Mayer was used in this report.


Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.