The bill would tighten regulation around
vaccination requirements for daycare centers
Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation) is again sponsoring legislation to keep kids safe from preventable deadly illnesses, this week filing SB 1022 to provide additional oversight of vaccination requirements for daycare facilities.
“Every child deserves to go to school free from disease, but because of a lack in oversight, young children who attend Florida’s daycares are in danger of contracting serious preventable diseases like measles,” says Senator Book, a mother of three-year-old twins. “For immune-compromised children, these diseases can cause life-threatening illness or death. We must protect the health of our children, our communities, and our state’s tourism-driven economy – especially in the wake of COVID-19.”
Childhood vaccines have been deemed necessary by scientific and medical communities. Alarmingly, vaccination rates are down as much as 60 percent in Florida since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Physicians and public health experts support Book’s bill and share grave concerns for the health and safety of Florida’s children regarding dips in vaccination rates.
“Vaccines are the most effective and safest way of preventing communicable diseases and save between two and three million children’s lives each year,” says Dr. Lisa Gwynn, President of the Florida Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics. “This pandemic has shown us firsthand that we cannot let our guard down and must continue to make vaccinations a number one public health priority.”
Book’s bill aims to increase vaccination rates for children of all ages by boosting the number of preschool children who are vaccinated. Her bill would specifically require the Department of Children and Families to include in licensure standards for childcare facilities a minimum percentage of children enrolled in a facility who must have received immunizations.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, “herd immunity” or “community immunity” is critical to public health. While Florida’s public K-12 schools require students to be vaccinated, a spike in non-medical vaccine exemptions resulted in only 25 of Florida’s 67 counties meeting the state’s 95% immunity threshold goal for kindergartners in 2018. This means the 93-95% necessary “community immunity” levels for measles are not being met – a gap made worse by COVID-19, missed vaccination appointments, and vaccine hesitant or “anti-vax” parents.
Last year, the CDC reported the highest number of measles cases since 1992, with 10% of the infected requiring hospitalization – spurring warnings that the United States could lose its measles elimination status if cases continue to increase. Miami-Dade and Broward Counties are among the 10 counties in the nation with the highest risk for a measles outbreak, according to a national study.
SB 1022 is the latest in Book’s pro-public health legislative agenda. The Senator is also sponsoring legislation to allow Medicaid coverage for donor breastmilk from milk banks, extend Medicaid coverage for post-partum care, provide personal hygiene products in schools at no cost to Florida schoolchildren or their families, and eliminate the sales tax on diapers and incontinence products. Senator Book filed a vaccine exemption bill in the 2020 legislative session.