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Video shows protesters at Toronto vaccine site

May 26, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: Video shows parents in Toronto being blocked by police as children were given the COVID-19 vaccine in exchange for ice cream, without parental permission.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The video shows protesters outside of a pop-up vaccination clinic in Toronto, not parents being kept from children as they received vaccines. In Ontario, it is up to health care workers to obtain consent, and support of a parent or legal guardian is required for those too young to understand.

THE FACTS: Posts online are falsely claiming that a video showing protesters outside a vaccine pop-up clinic at Toronto City Hall were in fact parents trying to stop health professionals and police from vaccinating their children.

On Sunday, the city of Toronto and the University Health Network held a pop-up vaccination event at city hall where 2,500 doses of vaccine were administered, according to the University Health Network. Free ice cream was given as an incentive to get more Canadians vaccinated.

The clinic was offering vaccines to anyone 12 years of age and older. Canadian health officials approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for ages 12-15 on May 5, making Canada the first country to approve the vaccine for that age group. The decision was met with heavy criticism from anti-vaccine advocates.

In videos online, protesters can be seen at Nathan Phillips Square outside of the city hall speaking out against vaccinating children at the clinic.

“This is our children and we will not back down,” one woman could be heard yelling in the video at police.

Posts online shared the video to falsely claim it showed children being vaccinated against their parent’s wishes.

“A pop up vaccine clinic in Canada that is offering kids free ice cream in exchange for a vaccine, no parental permission required. Police are guarding the front to stop parents from intervening,” one Twitter post said.

Another post on Twitter claimed that the video showed parents being barred from a school campus where children were being vaccinated without parental consent.

Gillian Howard, a spokesperson for the University Health Network, said clinic staff did not see children being vaccinated without a family member present.

“Anyone receiving vaccination would have been taken through the consent process by clinical staff and if there was any indication that someone – whatever their age – didn’t understand the consent process, they would not be vaccinated,” she wrote in an email.

Only a handful of demonstrators took part in the protest. Howard said that police were present due to threats to the clinic.

Under Ontario’s Health Care Consent Act, there is no minimum age to provide consent for vaccination, according to Toronto Public Health spokesperson Dr. Vinita Dubey. Rather, it is up to the healthcare providers to ensure that they obtain informed consent prior to immunization.

“This means the healthcare provider administering the vaccine has to deem the youth capable of understanding their decision,” Dubey said. “If the individual is incapable of consenting to receiving the vaccine, they would need consent from their substitute decision-maker, such as their parent or legal guardian.”

On May 10, U.S. health officials authorized the vaccine for children as young as 12 to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: