Staff at a Miami private school are facing a threat to their employment if they choose to get a coronavirus vaccine. One of the school's co-founders informed staff “with a very heavy heart” — citing false information — that if they get vaccinated, they will not be welcome in classrooms or around students.
“We cannot allow recently vaccinated people to be near our students until more information is known,” said Centner Academy co-founder Leila Centner in a letter sent to staff. In the letter, Centner referred to the vaccine as “experimental.” She then gave employees an ultimatum: Inform the school if they've already been vaccinated so they could be kept distanced from students, or wait until the end of the school year to get inoculated. “If you want to get the vaccine, please wait until the school year ends and you will not be able to return to school until clinical trials are complete,” the letter reads, “(If a position is still available at that time).”
Centner is also requiring faculty and staff to fill out a “confidential” form revealing whether they have already received the vaccine or intend to get it. In the form is a caveat: Employees must “acknowledge the school will take legal measures needed to protect the students if it is determined that I have not answered these questions accurately.”
But what is perhaps most concerning is that in her letter to staff, Centner cited disproven information to justify the school’s new policy, suggesting that “reports have surfaced recently of non-vaccinated people being negatively impacted by interacting with people who have been vaccinated.” In a follow-up letter on Monday, Centner claimed that the coronavirus vaccine has a negative impact on fertility and menstruation, writing that vaccinated individuals “may be transmitting something” to unvaccinated people. “Even among our own population, we have at least three women with menstrual cycles impacted after having spent time with a vaccinated person,” Centner wrote.
Centner doubled down on this in a statement to Refinery29. “Anecdotally, tens of thousands of women all over the world have recently been reporting adverse reproductive issues simply from being in close proximity with those who have received any one of the COVID-19 injections, e.g., irregular menses, bleeding, miscarriages, post-menopausal hemorrhaging, and amenorrhea (complete loss of menstruation),” she wrote.
More than 140 million people in the U.S. have received one of the coronavirus vaccines, reports The New York Times. At present, none of the approved COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. have been linked to infertility, miscarriages, or any other adverse effects on women’s reproductive health. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages pregnant people to get the vaccine after observing “no safety concerns” among 35,000 women who were vaccinated during their third trimester.
This anti-vaccination stance is reportedly not unusual for the Centner Academy and its founders. Support for “medical freedom from mandated vaccines” is prominently advertised on the Academy's website. The school has also posted guidance to help parents file for exemptions to other state-required vaccinations.
Co-founders David and Leila Centner identify themselves as “health freedom advocates.” Both donated heavily to the Republican Party and the Trump reelection campaign, reports The Times. In January, they invited prominent anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., to speak at the school, which returned to in-person teaching back in September.
As educators, these two are directly harming their staff and the people who attend their school. This is a prime example of just how pervasive vaccine misinformation can be — and the real-life consequences that come with it.