Coronavirus: Anti-vaccine posters pop up on mailboxes in Kingston suburb

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Coronavirus: Anti-vaccine posters pop up on mailboxes in Kingston suburb
WATCH: Leaflets spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation surface in a subdivision in the city's west end – Apr 6, 2021

Some residents of Kingston’s Westbrook Meadows neighbourhood had some interesting reading material while collecting their morning mail on Tuesday.

An unknown citizen had taped a number of anti-vaccine posters to three Canada Post mailboxes in the west end subdivision, featuring false information about COVID-19 vaccines.

“These vaccines are extraordinarily safe,” says Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University.

“The chances of having a severe reaction to the vaccine within 15 minutes is somewhere between one and three per one million doses given. So that’s extraordinarily rare.”

The flyers features a wide variety of misleading information surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations, such as claiming the shot doesn’t provide much protection against the virus, that it won’t end restrictive measures, and that the vaccine could even make you sterile.

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Dr. Evans says this type of information cherry-picking is often used to spread scientific disinformation.

“What we know about disinformation in science, is that you take one little fact and you roll it into something more, so people start of with the premise that it’s believable,” says Dr. Evans.

“The other thing they often do is allude to sites that people can go to get information. Most of the sites that we know are actually sites that are run by people who have an anti-vaccination slant. So they’re providing misleading or incorrect information to influence what people really should know about these vaccines.”

Dr. Evans noted that many of the talking points in the poster are typical anti-vaccination narratives that have been circulating well before COVID-19 even existed, which targeted vaccines that were used to fight other diseases, like the measles.

“It is a bit of recycling of some old information, and trying to tie it in with these vaccines,” he says.

The poster also claims that the COVID vaccine can cause potential serious side effects. Dr. Evans says that claim carries no weight whatsoever.

“There has not been any serious side effects of the kind described in that poster that would make you actually think that’s based on any evidence,” he says.

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The posters have since been taken down — they were removed from the mailboxes at some point Tuesday afternoon.

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