Education minister, premier, teachers condemn anti-vaccine protesters at Montreal school
MONTREAL -- Quebec’s education minister has condemned anti-vaccine protesters who allegedly harassed students at a Montreal school that was running a vaccination clinic and claimed the vaccine was linked to the recent death of a student.
Minister Jean-François Roberge said on Twitter he was shocked by the actions of the protesters “who have used the tragic death of a young girl to fuel disinformation.”
“It is an irresponsible gesture and I offer my condolences to the relatives of the victim and to the school staff.”
In a statement provided to CTV News, the regional health authority for the East Island of Montreal said their vaccination staff members were at the school on Wednesday to hand out shots to eligible students, which was one day after the student’s tragic death.
“During this vaccination activity, 177 doses were administered and no incidents were brought to our attention,” wrote CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal spokesperson Catherine Dion.
Montreal police confirmed they responded to a 911 call at the school on Tuesday and that a "young girl was sent to hospital." The cause of the student’s death was not publicly released.
Police spokesperson Jessica Lalonde said police were at the school the next day and that a group of adults were engaging with students "in a public space next to the school" but there was no criminal activity involved.
The protesters claimed that the student’s death happened after the in-school immunization, according to a report by La Presse, which first reported the incident.
A teacher at the school, Xavier Watson, posted a video on his Facebook page of him telling a protester to not talk to his students.
“An anti-vaxxer and his gang came to protest at my school today as we mourn the tragic death of a student!” Watson wrote on Facebook. “This is f**ked, these people are disgusting!”
Premier Francois Legault was asked about the protest Friday, and his response was pointed.
"It’s unacceptable to see the anti-vax (movement) getting our children involved in their fight," said Legault. "Please, get our children out of this debate please.
He added that he has asked Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault to ensure police are investigating the matter thoroughly.