Anti-vaxx land is kinda like The Upside Down; science is fake there and baseless Facebook posts are news. That might be amusing, except dangerous elements of this fantasy world keep leaking into reality and wreaking havoc. Last week, an overpriced private school in Miami warned teachers that getting vaccinated could cost them their jobs. It’s not surprising that elitist parents would try to control the bodily autonomy of others and also endanger public health, but their logic is truly bizarre. The anti-vaxx leaders of this school claim that proximity to a person who has been vaccinated may interfere with peoples’ menstrual cycles, reported the New York Times.
“We cannot allow recently vaccinated people to be near our students until more information is known,” said Leila Centner, co-founder of The Centner School said in a letter last week to faculty and staff. “Even among our own population, we have at least three women with menstrual cycles impacted after having spent time with a vaccinated person.” Center cited some effectively make-believe gibberish, claiming that the vaccine is linked to infertility in vaccinated women — and anyone who gets close to them. Yes, she really does seem to think that vaxx-tainted humans’ period problems will be contagious.
The thing is that while this may all sound high-key batshit to science-loving people, Centner’s argument is not actually coming from some fringe element. Centner’s statement was based on widely circulating misinformation that COVID-19 vaccines can shed from one person to another and lead to infertility problems. Where is this “information” coming from? Wellness influencers, for one.
Internet health gurus, unfortunately, don’t limit their sphere of “expertise” to anti-aging serums. Two well-known anti-vaxx influencers who have relatives enrolled at The Centner School publicly praised the school. “Spent some time with Kelly Brogan, MD, one of my soul sisters and a fellow warrior who also made the famous Disinformation Dozen list,” Christiane Northrup posted on Facebook Monday. “We both have children (grandchildren in my case) who go to the Centner Academy, a miraculous school in Miami. We are keeping the vibration of joy and grounding as high as we possibly can!”
The “Disinformation Dozen” list that Northup is bragging about being on comes from a report on the twelve most dangerous circulators of digital misinformation compiled last month by The Center for Countering Hate, an organization that is trying to work against the spread of anti-vaxx conspiracy theories. Northup and her ally, Brogan, made the list based on their high numbers of followers, amongst which are the owners of The Centner School, David and Leila Centner, who identify as “health freedom advocates,” according to the Washington Post.
This redux of the Victorian purity ethic is a classic misogynistic double move — policies are made to restrict the autonomy of people with vaginas supposedly on behalf of people with vaginas. Only this particular policy impacts not just a Centner staff member’s ability to decide for themselves whether or not to get the vaxx, it effectively made their job dependent on that decision.
Teachers were reportedly told that they were required to inform the school if they had been vaccinated so they could be kept physically distant from students or wait until after the school year to be vaccinated if they wanted their jobs. Teachers who chose to get the vaxx would be eligible for employment after the summer break — and clinical trials — if “a position is still available at that time,” reported the Times.