Ingraham Wrongly Blames Migrants for Florida Measles Outbreak

Recently, measles has re-emerged and is now spreading amongst children in Florida. Experts argue that decreased vaccination rates are to blame. However, Fox News asserts that the source of the problem stems from immigrants. After an elementary school in South Florida struggled to contain a measles outbreak, Fox News host Laura Ingraham conjectured on her television show that immigrants entering the country were the cause of the new cases of infection. Despite having nine confirmed cases so far, Ingraham alleged that the potential spread of contagious diseases is a side effect of an open border policy.

Several right-wing commentators and political figures have historically pointed the finger at immigrants as the main reason for disease outbreaks, despite the lack of solid evidence supporting these claims. In fact, Ingraham herself had previously stated in 2014 that immigrant children were bringing tuberculosis to the U.S, asserting that as the government disperses immigrants across the country, they spread diseases along with them.

Even Donald Trump, during his presidential campaign in 2015, accused individuals from Mexico of being a primary source of “tremendous infectious diseases…pouring across the border”. These inflammatory statements, as Alicia Sadowski of Media Matters, a media watchdog group, highlights, serve as a coded, racial message meant to vilify immigrants, while advancing the Fox network’s anti-immigration agenda.

Meanwhile, nine cases of measles have been confirmed in Broward County, the epicenter being Manatee Bay Elementary School in affluent Weston. These cases have been attributed by health officials to parents neglecting to vaccinate their children resulting in the rapid spread of this highly infectious virus. This dire reality was affirmed by Nicole Iovine, an infectious disease specialist, stating “This is what happens when people aren’t vaccinated against a highly infectious disease.”

Regardless, Florida’s Surgeon General, Joseph Lapado, a skeptic of the COVID-19 vaccine, has allowed unvaccinated children to attend school, rejecting guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Measles, transmitted via saliva and respiratory droplets, can lead to serious complications like pneumonia but can be simply prevented with a vaccine.

Measles, declared eradicated in the U.S in 2000, has been steadily resurging nationwide due to vaccine skepticism, according to the CDC. Broward County had its last reported case in 2019, coinciding with the worst national measles outbreak since 1992, with over 1,200 cases recorded that year. Studies showed that nearly 90% of infected children weren’t vaccinated. Florida law mandates two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine for public school attendance, but exceptions can be made for religious or medical reasons.