Chief Public Head Official of Florida Appears ‘Unconcerned’ About Rampant Measles Outbreak

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Mar 10, 2024

Over the past couple months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been sharing its concerns regarding a possible measles outbreak in the United States for the first time in decades.

But one public health official, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Florida’s Surgeon General, seems to be slightly less worried than everyone else, and some Floridians believe his lack of response to the potential crisis is quite concerning.

The Measles Outbreak

As of February 29, 2024, the CDC has reported that there are a total of 41 cases of measles across several states. Since there were only 58 cases over the entire year of 2023, the CDC is certainly concerned that within only two months, the country already has more than 70% of last year’s cases.

Headshot of Dr. Joseph Lapado, Florida’s Surgeon General/A child’s hand covered in measles rash on their parent’s hand

Source: Florida Department of Health/Depositphotos

While 41 people may seem like a small number for an outbreak, because measles is so wildly contagious and dangerous for young children, the CDC and various other health organizations are encouraging safety protocols among parents and doctors around the country.

Some Americans Have Chosen Not to Vaccinate in Recent Years

It’s important to note that 90.8% of all children born on or after 2016 have been vaccinated against measles through the MMR shot. However, that number is slightly down from the 91.9% of adolescents aged 13-17 with the vaccine.

Two vials of the MMR vaccine next to a syringe

Source: iStock

For the first time since the release of the vaccination in 1971, some Americans have decided to opt-out, as there is information circulating that vaccines may actually harm their newborn children as opposed to protecting them.

The Majority of Americans and Their Children Are Still Vaccinated Against the Measles

That being said, as the numbers still sit above 90%, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of Americans and their children have been vaccinated against measles. While that means they’re likely to get far less sick if they contract the virus, they can still get it.

Parents sit with their sick daughter in a hospital

Source: Freepik

Worse, those who are vaccinated can be carriers of the disease, and those who are unvaccinated who catch it could experience anywhere from mild to aggressive symptoms or even death.

Florida’s Surgeon General Isn’t all That Worried

Each of the states with confirmed cases has been making announcements as to how parents, and really all residents, should proceed to keep themselves and their children safe from measles.

Photograph of Florida’s Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Lapado against an orange background

Source: @FLSurgeonGen/X

And everyone is talking about Florida’s Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph Lapado’s response, as many believe it has been seriously lackluster.

What Dr. Ladapo Has to Say About All This

Dr. Lapado sent out a letter to Florida parents and guardians on February 20 that announced “a cluster of measles cases [has] been identified at Manatee Bay Elementary.”

Young kids work on a project together in a classroom

Source: Freepik

But he went on to say, “When measles is detected in a school, it is normally recommended that individuals without history of prior infection or vaccination stay home for up to 21 days,” and “due to the high immunity rate in the community, as well as the burden on families and educational cost of healthy children missing school, DOH is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance.”


Some Say This Letter Lacks Important Information

Many are arguing that this letter lacks the important information and urgency to protect Florida’s children from the measles outbreak.

Young girl smiles as she gets a vaccination from a doctor

Source: Freepik

Those concerned with Dr. Lapado’s letter say that the surgeon general should have encouraged parents with unvaccinated children to get vaccinated as soon as possible and that he severely minimized the dangers of the disease.


Dr. Lapado Minimized the Symptoms of the Disease

Specifically, Dr. Lapado said in his letter, “Symptoms include high fever, which can reach 105°F, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes,” but said nothing about the fact that measles can actually be fatal to children.

A young child with Measles with a thermometer

Source: Shutterstock

He also wrote, “Individuals with a history of prior infection or vaccination who have received the full series of the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) immunization are 98% protected and are unlikely to contract measles” but neglected to mention they can still be carriers of the disease.


Gov. DeSantis Is Suspiciously Quiet

Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, has yet to publicly address the measles outbreak, and some say that his lack of attention to the disease and the declining vaccinations is even worse than Dr. Lapado’s unconcerned letter.

Photograph of Governor Ron DeSantis from Florida

Source: Wikipedia

An article in the Los Angeles Times said, “DeSantis hasn’t spoken in public about the measles outbreak, but make no mistake: He deserves equal blame for the consequences.”


Both Political Leaders Were Said to Also Have Downplayed COVID-19

Both Lapado and DeSantis famously made anti-vaccination statements during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some say this is just another example of their lack of awareness and care for their constituents.

Protected nurse stands behind a COVID-19 vaccination check-in sign

Source: Shutterstock

In fact, the same Los Angeles Times writer, Michael Hiltzik, previously called Dr. Lapado “the most dangerous quack in America” for his statements regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.


Most Doctors Are More Concerned About the Measles Outbreak than Dr. Lapado

The truth is that while some Americans and physicians will agree with Dr. Lapado’s response to the possible measles outbreak, the vast majority are far more concerned for their children than Florida’s Surgeon General seems to be.

Doctors and medical professionals look over statistics in a business meeting

Source: Freepik

Epidemiologist Katelyn Jetelina explained the dangers of the disease with concrete numbers: “1 in 5 will be hospitalized, 1 in 20 will develop pneumonia (the most common way measles kills young kids), 1 in 1,000 will develop encephalitis (infection of the brain, sometimes causing permanent brain damage), and 1-3 in 1,000 will die.”


Parents Should Be Worried About Their Children Contracting Measles

The bottom line is that, no matter what Dr. Lapado said in his letter, parents in Florida, as well as everywhere else in the United States, should certainly be concerned about their children contracting measles as there are more cases every day.

Mother using the back of her hand to check her daughter’s temperature while she lays in bed with a teddy bear

Source: Freepik

If a child develops any symptoms, such as a cough, fever, runny nose, watery eyes, excessive sneezing, or a sore throat, it’s important to head to the pediatrician’s office right away.