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Miami-Dade Superintendent: Get Your Shots (Even Flu)

John O'Connor
StateImpact Florida

Miami-Dade County school leaders say they are concerned about a measles outbreak spreading across the country, and they urge parents to vaccinate their children.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho says vaccinations work, and the district is tracking whether students get their required shots. Carvalho says 98 percent of Miami-Dade students have been vaccinated or are getting the shots now.

“We’ve seen recently what the outbreak of measles in Arizona can do to a community," Carvalho says. "That cannot be the case in Miami. So we are diligent in ensuring our children are properly immunized prior to beginning their school year.”

That includes 1,200 students new to the district this year, many escaping dangerous communities in Central America.

State law requires students receive five vaccinations by the time they begin kindergarten unless they have a medical or religious exemption.

State health data shows more than 95 percent of seventh grade public and private school students in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties were vaccinated during the 2013-2014 school year, the most recent data available. At least 92 percent of kindergarten students were vaccinated during the same period.

Carvalho says students should also get the flu vaccine, often available for free.

"There's nothing more destructive to a child's ability to learn than to be absent from school," Carvalho says. "Better to be preventive to this measure, than to be reactive."

WLRN is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.