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Childhood routine vaccinations decrease, farming in Puerto Rico, and the film ‘Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism’

 Food is grown at the Armonia en la Montañ farm in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, on September 15, 2021
Erika P. Rodriguez
/
Miami Herald
Food is grown at the Armonia en la Montañ farm in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, on September 15, 2021.

Childhood routine vaccination rates have significantly decreased since the pandemic started. Also, Puerto Rico is implementing a new style of farming following Hurricane Maria. Plus, a conversation with the director of "Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism."

On this Tuesday, Oct. 26 edition, of Sundial:

Childhood routine vaccinations decrease

There has been a significant decrease in routine childhood vaccinations during the pandemic. Public shutdowns and virtual schooling have contributed to the decline.

Some experts are now worried about what this could mean for illnesses that were considered nearly eradicated like measles and polio.

Dr. Lisa Gwynn is the president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She’s also an associate professor of clinical pediatrics and public health sciences at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.

She said she’s seen a decrease in childhood routine vaccinations over the past five to seven years as more parents participate in the anti-vaccine movement.

“Unfortunately, vaccines have become very politicized. It’s just compounded the problem,” Gwynn said.

Schools require students to get certain vaccinations in order to attend classes. Gwynn noted the impact schools have on parents who are skeptical about vaccinating their kids.

“Thank goodness for schools,” Gwynn said. “Those parents that are hesitant often times are tipped over the edge when they gain the knowledge that their child won’t be able to go to school unless they’ve had all of their required vaccinations.”

She added that access to these routine vaccines is still prevalent despite the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

“The supply wasn’t the issue,” Gwynn said. “The prioritization was the issue for the health departments.”

Childhood routine vaccinations decrease

Puerto Rico’s farming revolution

Puerto Ricans are still experiencing the impacts of Hurricane Maria four years after the storm devastated the island. It killed thousands of people, destroyed infrastructure, and dissipated about 80% of the island’s crop value.

After the hurricane, residents saw fresh produce prices skyrocket due to inflation and high demand. Local farmers were forced to find alternative sustainable options, which has led to an agricultural revolution.

The Miami Herald’s Syra Ortiz-Blanes reports on Puerto Rico and Latin America. She’s been traveling to different farms in Puerto Rico to meet the farmers and locals behind the island’s agroecological movement.

“It’s about growing food in ways that align with nature that protect and restore the environment that grows it,” Ortiz-Blanes said.

She added that there are many multiplicities involved with this type of farming in Puerto Rico.

“A lot of these farmers will tell you for them it's not a job but it's a lifestyle,” Ortiz-Blanes said.

Ortiz-Blanes mentioned there are farmers who see their agroecological farms encompassing political implications, especially because Puerto Rico is not an independent nation.

“For a lot of these farmers practicing agroecology, which aligns so much with the natural world, it’s about what does it mean to grow food in a land where you can’t exercise full sovereignty?” she said. “It’s about moving towards self-sufficiency and autonomy.”

Puerto Rico’s agroecological farming revolution

The film “Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism” 

There was a time in South Florida when not everyone could enjoy the beautiful beaches we know and love today. That’s because many of those beaches were segregated. African Americans were not allowed near the beach unless they were working there or had an identification card.

Cathleen Dean is the director and producer of a documentary titled, “Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism.” The short film will be featured at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.

It explores the relationship that Black and brown people have had with water over the centuries, dating back to when water was a significant part of some African cultures due to civilizations living on the coast.

“When enslaved Africans were brought over here to the New World, they were accomplished swimmers,” Dean said. “Africans taught Europeans how to swim. The Africans worked in the aquatics field, they were pearl divers, fishermen.”

She added that people of African descent were denied access to the water after beaches became a coveted commodity for white people.

You can watch “Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism” and other short films at the Pompano Cultural Arts Center on Nov. 6.

The film “Wade in the Water: Drowning in Racism”

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Amber Amortegui is a senior studying journalism at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Born and raised in Davie, Fla., Amber is a native South Floridian who embraces one of America’s most diverse regions.