Local

Protesters reportedly told kids the COVID-19 vaccine could kill them at a Gardner clinic

“My students have already lost any sense of normalcy because of this pandemic. These protesters caused further trauma by accosting my youngest learners, which is reprehensible."

Protesters stood outside a Gardner COVID-19 vaccine clinic for children Tuesday night, reportedly telling some of the young children that the vaccine could kill them.

Gardner Superintendent Mark Pellegrino said police were called twice to the clinic, which doled out 180 vaccinations to children between the ages of 5 and 11.

There were five people outside the clinic with a megaphone and signs, according to Pellegrino in an email. While he said he asked the protesters to stay “on the edge of the property and not interfere with families,” he called the police to speak to them when he found out they were reportedly stopping cars.

Advertisement:

Soon afterward, Pellegrino said the parent of a student said one of the protesters pushed a flyer into her child’s face.

“Your mom is making you take a vaccine that could make you die,” the protester reportedly said. “Your heart could grow big and explode.”

Pellegrino called police again, he said, and he went out and protesters were told that they could not stop anyone from going to get the vaccine, and that the kids being vaccinated are minors, who shouldn’t be “yelled at or accosted.”

This is the first time Gardner has dealt with protests at a vaccine clinic, the superintendent said. He noted that they will now include a police detail.

“My students have already lost any sense of normalcy because of this pandemic,” he said. “These protesters caused further trauma by accosting my youngest learners, which is reprehensible. I understand some people do not believe the vaccine is safe. However, those of us who want to be vaccinated to protect ourselves and our families from this deadly virus should be allowed to do so without fear of abuse from our own community.”

Public health experts say myocarditis — or an inflammation of the heart muscle — is a rare side effect of the Pfizer vaccine, and the vast majority of cases are mild and temporary. They also say the risks of contracting COVID-19 far outweigh any risks the vaccines’ pose.

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com