A Florida school says vaccinated students must stay home for 30 days after each shot, citing a false claim that they’ll infect others

Junior Molly Day gets her first Pfizer Biontech COVID vaccine at Ridley High School in Ridley, PA
Junior Molly Day got her first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine at Ridley High School in Pennsylvania on May 3. Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group/Daily Times via Getty Images
  • Centner Academy in Miami, Florida said any student who gets vaccinated must quarantine for 30 days.
  • The school is promoting a dangerous, debunked rumor that vaccinated students can infect others.
  • An infectious-disease expert who spoke with WSVN characterized the false claim as “science fiction.”

A private school in Miami is requiring students who get vaccinated to quarantine at home for 30 days after each dose.

“Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free,” a letter sent to parents of students at the Centner Academy said, as local news outlet WSVN reported.

The letter also urged parents to “hold off” on getting their children vaccinated until the summer “when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease.”

School officials told Insider that the “policy was enacted as a prudent precautionary measure after much thoughtful deliberation,” and repeated a false claim that vaccinated people pose a viral danger to others.

The truth is that this school policy is based on a dangerous myth that has been extensively debunked.

A COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19

“What kind of nonsense is this?” Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University, told WSVN. “They made that up. That’s science fiction – not even science fiction because it’s pure fiction.”

None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines contain the virus that causes COVID-19.

Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine (the only one authorized for teens ages 12-16) instructs a person’s body how to make a harmless protein. Learning how to make that protein is like viral bootcamp for the body’s immune system, teaching it how to recognize and fight off the virus if it ever meets it.

“A COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19,” a fact sheet published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reads.

Instead, COVID-19 vaccines make it less likely a person will get sick with COVID-19 in the first place.

“The vaccine cannot be inhaled via shedding and can only enter the human body through an administered dose,” Pfizer spokesperson Jerica Pitts previously told The Associated Press in an email addressing the myth this school is perpetuating.

Even if vaccinated people do catch the virus (which is happening more now that the highly infectious Delta variant is here), it’s precisely because they have been vaccinated that their chances of winding up seriously ill, or dead, are reduced many, many times over. An Insider analysis of more than a dozen studies found that Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca are all highly effective at preventing severe COVID-19.

Additionally, early research has suggested that if they do get ill, fully vaccinated people are less likely to spread their illness than those who remain unvaccinated. Recent research has also shown that having more vaccinated family members helps protect kids who are too young to get shots yet.

Vaccines might cause short term side effects like fevers. That’s normal – a good sign the body is building up immunity against the virus.

The coronavirus is killing students and teachers

The coronavirus and its variants have been spreading quickly across schools, infecting and sometimes killing students and teachers. An unvaccinated teacher in California infected 26 people with the coronavirus after removing her mask to read to the class. A Mississippi eighth-grader died of COVID-19 just a week into school in August. Two teachers in Texas died from COVID-19 just days apart, forcing the school district to temporarily close.

“Schools can promote vaccinations among teachers, staff, families, and eligible students by providing information about COVID-19 vaccination, encouraging vaccine trust and confidence, and establishing supportive policies and practices that make getting vaccinated as easy and convenient as possible,” a CDC info page about vaccinating kids says.

Centner Academy defended the letter it sent out to parents in a statement sent to Insider.

In a statement to WSVN, officials said: “Centner Academy’s top priorities are our students’ well-being and their sense of safety within our educational environment. We will continue to act in accordance with these priorities. The email that was sent to families today was grounded in these priorities.”

This story has been updated with a statement from the school sent to Insider, and a fact check of that statement.