The head of Haldimand-Norfolk’s COVID-19 vaccine task force has publicly called out MP Leslyn Lewis for spreading misinformation about the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Chief Sarah Page of Norfolk EMS said comments from Lewis questioning the effectiveness of the vaccine could hurt the local vaccine rollout.
“Any time that we see someone that is seen as a trusted or respected member of the public come out with language that is anti-vaxx or possibly not based on science, we do see some response through social media channels continuing the spread of that information beyond what we would hope,” Page said.
Page was commenting on a recent tweet from Lewis in which the newly elected MP said children were being used as “shields” for adults in the context of Health Canada potentially broadening vaccine eligibility.
“Parents question vaccinating kids 5-12 without long-term data, a low risk of fatality, and cautions echoed around the world, when the treatment neither prevents transmitting or getting the virus,” Lewis tweeted.
Page said such comments hinder the health unit’s goal of vaccinating 90 per cent of the population against a virus that has killed 50 people in Haldimand-Norfolk, including the recent death of an unvaccinated resident announced on Friday.
“We encourage people to follow the science and trust your family practitioners — the people that deal with your heath care on a daily basis,” Page said.
Lewis’s office did not respond to an interview request.
Page said that, to her knowledge, the health unit has not been in touch with Lewis directly to discuss vaccination.
In an effort to improve vaccine uptake in Haldimand-Norfolk’s rural areas — where getting to a vaccine clinic can be more of a challenge — the province’s mobile GO-VAXX clinic will be parked at the Canborough community centre on Nov. 13, Boston Public School on Nov. 20 and the Port Rowan community centre on Nov. 27, all from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
No appointment is needed for first or second shots.
J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator