Staff at a community vaccine clinic say they were harassed by a group of outsiders demanding their second doses even though they’re not eligible.
“They were threatening to me and my staff. We were being bullied and threatened the entire day,” executive director of Cecil Community Centre Danny Anckle said.
The pop-up site was targeting the residents of the Kensington-Chinatown neighbourhood, which recorded the lowest vaccination rate in Toronto.
After three weeks of volunteers and community groups knocking on doors and doing non-stop community outreach, residents showed up in droves this past week to get their first shots.
However, on Wednesday, things took a dark turn.
Staff said the parking lot across the street started filling up with vehicles and so-called “vaccine vultures” started circling. Hundreds of people were seen crowding the lineup, arguing with staff and even claiming reverse racism.
I am furious. after being told to leave and come back for *possible* second doses, if there are any left after 7pm, an entire group of people have instead decided to camp out across the street. they pulled up in BMWs and Mercedes. literally refusing to leave, despite pic.twitter.com/5onR97QaaY
— tanya 'yer uncle, Iroh' mok (@_tanyamok) May 26, 2021
“Some very selfish people who felt like they had a sense of entitlement decided they wanted to get their second dose regardless of those who didn’t have their first dose,” Anckle said. “All kinds of excuses were given yesterday as to why they should be given their second dose.”
In a statement to CityNews, Toronto Public Health said it “does not tolerate harassment of community partners or volunteers at any vaccination clinic” and second doses are currently only available to high-risk healthcare workers, dialysis patients, and all First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals.
At one point organizers said they considered calling police but decided not to out of fear that would scare away the people this clinic was trying to serve.
Overall the staff say the clinic was a huge success, giving out first doses to about 2,000 residents over two days.