City of Toronto pulls video advertising COVID-19 vaccine for kids saying it 'missed the mark'

·2 min read
A since-removed video posted by the City of Toronto announcing the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for children features a young looking out of the window longingly at a group of children playing outside but being told she can't join because 'there's still something going around.' (City of Toronto - image credit)
A since-removed video posted by the City of Toronto announcing the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for children features a young looking out of the window longingly at a group of children playing outside but being told she can't join because 'there's still something going around.' (City of Toronto - image credit)

The City of Toronto has taken down a public service announcement video meant to encourage vaccination in children, with its top spokesperson saying Wednesday the ad "missed the mark and should not have been posted."

The video, which cost $4,000 to produce, was one in a series of five aimed at parents and caregivers to highlight the impact of the pandemic on children, and remind them that vaccines are available.

In it, a young girl is seen looking out of the window longingly at a group of children playing outside.

"Mom, can I go outside and play with my friends?" she asks.

"No honey, there's still something going around," her mother replies.

Text then appears on the screen, reading: "Kids should be out there. Not in here. COVID-19 vaccines available for children six months to 12 years."

In a tweet Tuesday, the city said it removed a tweet featuring the video, saying it will "work to ensure greater clarity in the future."

City spokesperson Brad Ross told CBC News the video was a community-led intitive by its vaccine engagement team, who have been "extremely effective in educating and informing residents about the efficacy of the vaccine."

But, he says, "the video sent the wrong message."

"Children should be outside. They should play. They should go to school. The video implied if they're unvaccinated they need to remain at home, isolated. That is wrong and not the message that we wanted to convey," said Ross.

The entire series of five videos, which Ross said cost some $20,000, has now been paused while each is reviewed to ensure its messaging is clear.

Any future such videos will undergo "a more rigorous approvals process," including requiring the OK of Toronto Public Health, said Ross.