COVID-19: Top Saskatchewan doctor breaks down while presenting modelling

During a technical briefing regarding COVID-19 in Saskatchewan on Wednesday, chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab got emotional while presenting case modelling.

The modelling projects if the current strain COVID-19 is “the worst of it”, decreases and only takes three months to bring down, around 20,000 procedures will be cancelled and things will not return to “normal” until early 2022.

Shahab was in the middle of speaking about how individuals can take action despite public health orders telling them to do so when he started to cry.

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“I think in the past, there’s mention that Dr. Shahab just pleads to the public and he doesn’t direct an order. I have no shame in pleading to the public that we’ve gone so far and we just have to pull along for the next few weeks or months. It’s distressing to see what is happening in our ICUs and hospitals,” Shahab said, fighting back tears.

When it was their turn to ask a follow-up question, a reporter instead asked if the doctor was OK.

A brief pause followed the reporter’s question.

“All the evidence is out there and it is very disturbing to see unvaccinated, young (and) healthy people winding up in ICU and dying.”

Shahab added that he is only watching this from a distance but when talking about health-care worker burnout, he said it is frustrating to see young lives being lost to a disease that can be prevented by vaccines.

“How can we accept this in a country that has had vaccines available for everyone since July?” Shahab said.

“Apologies if I’m being a bit unprofessional.”

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Saskatchewan Medical Association encourages doctors to reach out for mental health help

Modelling presented by Shahab shows COVID-19 ICU levels in Saskatchewan have reached an unsustainable level for the health-care system.

Without public health measures, modelling projects it could take more than four months to get back to sustainable levels in the ICU. The number of ICU patients is also projected to increase without further public health orders.

Currently, there are no gathering limits in place in Saskatchewan. A mask mandate is in place for public indoor buildings.

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Shahab would not confirm if he has recommended the government put additional public health guidelines in place. He said it was up to the government to release that information.

Regardless of public health orders, Shahab recommended individuals reduce close contacts. He also said people should stay home even if they have mild symptoms and get tested.

In a statement to Global News, the Health Ministry said they have nothing further to add about whether or not Shahab has recommended further public health measures.

On Tuesday, Shahab confirmed he was named in an alleged email threat that was reported to the Regina Police Service.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe was also alleged to have been named in the email.

RPS has since charged 38-year-old Tobechi Okwuonu with two counts of uttering threats.

More to come…

— with files from Thomas Piller

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

CDN-NDG mayoral candidate Sue Montgomery wants to split borough in two

WATCH: Côte-Des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-De-Grâce (CDN-NDG) incumbent Mayor Sue Montgomery has released her election platform under her new party. As Global’s Elizabeth Zogalis reports, Montgomery is considering splitting up her electoral district but several other mayoral candidates say now is not the time for division.

Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce incumbent mayor Sue Montgomery released her election platform under her new party “Courage” on Wednesday.

Montgomery says the region’s population of 175,000 residents would be better served by splitting Montreal’s largest borough.

“This isn’t just something that we just dreamed up one day,” says Montgomery. “It really comes up after a lot of consultations with people and knocking on doors and listening to people what they have to say,” Montgomery added.

“Even just the efficiency of snow clearing, garbage pick-up, recycling. All of those things could be better managed if it was smaller, if it was broken up into two.”

Read more:
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But other mayoral candidates say the mere mention of splitting up the borough is disappointing. Ensemble Montreal’s mayoral candidate Lionel Perez says the focus should be on the citizens.

“Everything else is really a distraction,” says Perez. “Cleaner parks, better sidewalks, more money Côte-des-Neiges–NDG for a fairer distribution of the funding,” he added.

Both Projet Montréal and new party Mouvement Montréal are running two newcomers to the political game. Both say they will offer a fresh perspective but splitting up the borough is not an option.

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“We want to reinvigorate, revitalize that neighborhood,” says Mouvement Montreal’s mayoral candidate Matthew Kerr.

‘We need to instill funding for community organizations, mentorship programs, affordable sports programs in the borough. Now is not the time to abandon Côte-des-Neiges.”

Projet Montreal’s mayoral candidate Gracia Kasoki Katahwa says the diversity between CDN-NDG should be celebrated.

“Having two public administrations is just more fees at a moment where we need more money for important elements like social housing and affordable housing,” says Katahwa.

Sue Montgomery did not say whether she would prefer to be the mayor of Côte-des-Neiges–NDG or how the two boroughs would be divided, but it would be something her party would begin to discuss if elected.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Woman sentenced in Tiki Laverdiere homicide

One of ten people charged in the death of an Edmonton woman who disappeared after attending a funeral in Saskatchewan has been found guilty of first-degree murder.

Nikita Cook has been sentenced to life in prison and won’t be eligible for parole for 25 years.

Read more:
Trial for man accused of killing Tiki Laverdiere set for 2023

A kidnapping charge against Cook was stayed in her judge-only trial in North Battleford.

The body of Tiki Laverdiere, who was 25, was found in a rural area outside of North Battleford in 2019.

Six others still face first-degree murder charges in the case and three others have previously pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Queen's University student association to review history of misogynistic signs at homecoming

WATCH ABOVE: Fines have been raised, names have been shared and arrests were made, but still the street parties continued. Now, Kingston is bracing to do it all over again next weekend.

The association representing undergraduate students at Queen’s University will conduct a review of the history of misogynistic signs at the school’s homecoming parties after several appeared at rowdy gatherings over the weekend, the group said Wednesday.

The Alma Mater Society said that it will also review the harmful effects of such signs and how students can report them.

“We condemn the misogynistic banners that hung from numerous houses with offensive and inappropriate statements on them,” the student association said.

“This behaviour directly contributes to a culture of misogyny and gender-based and sexual violence in our community; a culture that we continuously call on our administration, organizations, our peers, and our community members to actively work against.”

Read more:
Students who posted misogynistic signs to face consequences under Queen’s code of conduct

That comes after Queen’s said earlier this week that it would take action against those who displayed misogynistic signs at parties held over the school’s homecoming weekend in Kingston, Ont. The university has not specified what that action would entail.

Police made 36 arrests and issued more than 100 fines after the gatherings.

The unsanctioned parties took place even though Queen’s opted against holding traditional in-person homecoming events for a second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Alma Mater Society said while it’s disappointed by the large parties, it was concerned by what it called an “over-policing” of students at the gatherings.

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“While we understand concerns from community members, it is important to note that the police this weekend exacerbated the events of homecoming and the tactics were not only ineffective but excessive,” the association said, noting it was “disappointed” to see the university support these tactics.

The student group said it will address these concerns directly with the City of Kingston and Queen’s administration and will “continue to promote respectful and safe practices and behaviour as well as harm reduction measures for our students.”

Abby Goldstein, associate chair of applied psychology and human development at the University of Toronto, said university students would benefit from more education and harm reduction measures to help ensure that when these gatherings happen, students participate safely.

“I think that there’s probably a lot of missed opportunities in terms of being able to help develop strategies for emerging adults about making good and healthy decisions for their own mental health, and to encourage different ways of establishing a sense of community and getting together and socializing that are consistent with safer practices,” she said.

Goldstein said there’s a responsibility on the part of the university to educate students on consent and how to engage in relationships on campus. She also stressed that students need to receive “healthy messaging around sexual behaviour” well before the time that they first set foot on a university campus.

Queen’s University spokeswoman Julie Brown said keeping the community and students safe is a “top priority” for the school.

“We worked, and continue to work hard along with all of our community partners, to caution students about large unsanctioned gatherings and about safe behaviours,” she wrote in an email statement.

“While we understand the students’ concerns and have spoken to the police about their approach, we also appreciate the police have learned from others’ experiences at these types of gatherings about serious risks to people’s personal safety.”

Brown added that police are trying to contain “real threats that can quickly escalate without a significant presence to contain them.”

With rumours of more gatherings being held near Queen’s this weekend, Brown said the university is hoping students will “think carefully about joining large crowds and about the risks they pose especially when drugs and alcohol are involved and they are less aware of their surroundings and danger posed by others.”

Kingston Police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Carson Crimeni’s dad attends court for 1st appearance of man charged in son's overdose death

The father of a B.C. boy who fatally overdosed after being given drugs, while other youth looked, filmed and laughed, said Wednesday he is going to attend every court date for the accused in his son’s death.

Carson Crimeni, 14, died on Aug. 7, 2019, near a Langley, B.C., skate park.

A 20-year-old man, who cannot be named because he was a youth at the time of the incident, has been charged with manslaughter.

Read more:
Manslaughter charge laid in overdose death of B.C. 14-year-old Carson Crimeni

He made his first court appearance on Wednesday. The next court date has been set for Nov. 24.

A publication ban prevents any reporting of what was discussed in the courtroom.

“No matter the day, I’m going to be here,” Aron Crimeni told Global News Wednesday.

“We’re 100 per cent ready and as long as it takes. It’s about getting justice and protecting children in the future.”

Video from Carson’s final hours, later posted to social media, shows the boy in steadily deteriorating condition, sweating heavily and becoming increasingly agitated.

It was only hours later that he was found barely breathing in a ditch not far from the Walnut Grove skate park.

Read more:
Carson Crimeni’s father calls for more charges in 14-year-old’s overdose death

The 20-year-old charged in Carson’s death turned himself in to police in mid-September after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Crimeni said that while this case won’t bring his son back, at the end of it, they “hope to get justice for Carson and to keep kids safe in the future.”

—with files from Rumina Daya and Simon Little

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Calgary medical examiner testifies 'very unlikely' Aliyah Sanderson died in accidental fall

A forensic pathologist says it’s unlikely a toddler, found buried with her mother west of Calgary more than two years ago, died as a result of an accidental fall.

Deputy medical examiner Dr. Akmal Coetzee-Khan returned to the witness stand Wednesday at the trial of Robert Leeming.

Read more:
Man accused of murdering Calgary mom, toddler in 2019 enters guilty plea to one count

Leeming, a 36-year-old British citizen, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend, Jasmine Lovett, but not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson.

Lovett and her daughter were reported missing in April 2019. The next month, police found their bodies in a shallow grave at a day-use area in Kananaskis Country, west of Calgary.

Leeming told police at the time that he and Lovett had been in a relationship after meeting online in 2018. She and her daughter moved in with him a month later.

Coetzee-Khan testified earlier at the trial that Sanderson died of blunt force injuries to her head while Lovett suffered three skull fractures and was shot in the head.

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On Tuesday, the doctor was asked if the child’s head and face injuries could be explained by a fall.

“It’s not impossible to have blunt force traumatic injuries from a single fall. It would be very unlikely,” said Coetzee-Khan.

He noted that if the girl had fallen forward, there should have been injuries to her arms. If she had fallen backward, there should have been injuries to her buttocks.

“On Aliyah, we don’t see any of those types of injuries… so it doesn’t seem like there was a fall where her arms and legs were involved in the process.”

During cross-examination, Leeming’s lawyer, Balfour Der, suggested Sanderson’s injuries could have been explained by a simple fall down some stairs.

“Could a tumble down stairs — plural, not just a single fall — cause these brain injuries and abrasions that you saw?” Der asked.

“Yes, it could cause the head injuries if we’re only talking about that… not taking into account the rest of the body,” Coetzee-Khan replied.

“If we’re talking about a tumble down the stairs, one would expect to see bruising or abrasions against the same surface to your arms and legs.”

Mother and daughter, Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson were reported missing on April 23, 2019.

Mother and daughter, Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson were reported missing on April 23, 2019.

Calgary Police Service

Coetzee-Khan said he ruled Sanderson’s death a homicide for three reasons: her injuries, where her body was found and because nobody called 911 to get her help.

Der said there could be an “innocent explanation” as to why someone wouldn’t call 911. He added there are a lot of unanswered questions in the girl’s death.

“You cannot tell this court how these injuries to Aliyah Sanderson were caused. You can’t eliminate a fall versus being thrown against a wall, for example?” Der said.

“I can’t eliminate them,” said Coetzee-Khan.

“I didn’t think so. Thank you, doctor,” Der said.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

B.C. NDP introduces bill to overhaul province's forestry sector

British Columbia’s forests minister has introduced a bill to amend the Forest and Range Practices Act in what she says will “reshape” forest management in the province.

Katrine Conroy told the legislature the proposed changes align forestry legislation with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act passed in late 2019 and introduce “new tools to establish resilient forests.”

She says the changes would include improved processes for reforestation after wildfires and more collaborative planning between Indigenous nations, government, the forest industry and other stakeholders.

Conroy says the changes are “long overdue” and they would establish a new forest landscape planning framework to be implemented over time, fully replacing the current forest stewardship planning system.

Conroy told the legislature that forestry policies put in place two decades ago have limited the province’s ability to fight climate change, protect old-growth forests and share benefits with Indigenous nations and other local communities.

In June, the province released a series of far-ranging forest “policy intentions,” including diversifying the ownership of harvesting rights and establishing a framework for compensation in the event those rights are redistributed.

About half of the province’s forest tenures are currently held by five major companies, and the plan included the goal to increase the tenures for Indigenous Peoples, forest communities and smaller operators.

The province has also pledged to implement recommendations from an independent review of B.C.’s old-growth forest management released last year, including the deferral of logging in ecosystems at risk of irreversible loss.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2021.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

'Incredibly tragic': 1 person dead in Vernon, B.C. house fire

A person died in a house fire in Vernon, B.C., on Tuesday evening, RCMP said in a release.

On Oct. 19, shortly after 11:45 p.m., police received a request for assistance from Vernon Fire Rescue Services to attend a house fire in the 6900-block of Okanagan Landing Road.

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Fire crews located and removed the occupant of the residence but efforts to resuscitate the victim were unsuccessful and they were pronounced deceased at the scene, police said.

The outcome of this incident is incredibly tragic, said Const. Chris Terleski.

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We extend our sincerest condolences to the family of the deceased during this incredibly difficult time. Our thoughts are also with our first responder family and others impacted by this tragedy.

The cause of the fire, which remains undetermined, is not believed to be criminal in nature.

Police said no further information, nor the identity of the victim, will be released.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Aeon Group says film district near Hamilton's West Harbour is still 'viable' despite challenges

A group working to establish a film production district near Hamilton’s West Harbour is reporting some progress.

It’s been two and a half years since Aeon Studio Group entered into a memorandum of understanding with the city.

Spokesman Jeff Anders appeared before councillors on Wednesday saying they’ve “marshalled” about $20 million in investment towards their vision for the Barton-Tiffany lands.

Read more:
Film studio plans take shape near Hamilton’s west harbour

Despite challenges related to the site, including soil contamination, Anders says Aeon remains convinced that its plan is “viable.”

“We don’t own this land, yet,” acknowledges Anders. “Needless to say, we’re moving in that direction.”

He adds that, “We expect to secure the necessary approvals to start construction on the least challenging parts of the site within two years, and on the most challenging parts of the site within five years.”

An artists rendering of a proposed film production district near Hamilton's west harbour. The shot is an overhead look at the Barton-Tiffany lands

An artists rendering of a proposed film production district near Hamilton's west harbour. The shot is an overhead look at the Barton-Tiffany lands

Aeon Studio Group (Aeon)

Aeon Studio Group’s goal is to create hundreds of jobs within the hub, featuring studios for the production of film, television, gaming, animation and music.

Architectural renderings, unveiled on Wednesday, also feature office space for creative industry companies, event spaces, artist live-work studios and an outdoor public plaza, described as the “beating heart” of the district.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger is among those voicing excitement at the potential development.

“We’re not trying to create Hollywood here,” says Eisenberger, “but we’re trying to get our piece of an industry that is exploding all around us.”

Anders stresses that Aeon produced the renderings to facilitate a conversation with the community.

“They’re a starting point for a discussion with our neighbours and all stakeholders to collect ideas and priorities before turning the preliminary vision into a substantive plan.”

Over the next several months, Aeon says it will host workshops, open-to-the-public meetings and consultations with neighbours and stakeholders.

An artist's post construction rendering of the intersection on Barton Street West at Caroline Street. Aeon Studio Group are working to establish a film production district near Hamilton's West Harbour.

An artist's post construction rendering of the intersection on Barton Street West at Caroline Street. Aeon Studio Group are working to establish a film production district near Hamilton's West Harbour.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

‘No middle ground’: How children’s COVID-19 vaccination is polarizing parents

WATCH: Half of Canadian parents with children aged 5-11 want them to be fully vaccinated

When the COVID-19 vaccines are approved and made available for young kids in Canada, Ontario mom Alyssa Beauchamp will not be rushing to get her five-year-old son jabbed.

The 22-year-old mother of three from Hamilton, Ont., who is fully vaccinated herself, is concerned about how her oldest would react to the vaccine.

“I would prefer to maybe just wait a little bit to see how other kids react before I put it in my son,” she said.

“My kids are fully vaccinated with everything else. They’re up to date on their shots. It’s just this one makes me a little bit nervous,” she told Global News.

Read more:
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Toronto resident Oksana Laurinaviciene, who is a lactation consultant, is in a similar predicament. While her husband is “200 per cent” in favour of getting their two children, aged 9 and 11, vaccinated, Laurinaviciene is worried about any potential side effects.

As part of its trial, Pfizer and BioNTech said data showed that their COVID-19 shot elicited a strong immune response among 2,268 children aged five to 11 that matched what was previously observed in those aged 16 to 25.

The kids’ dosage has also been proven to be safe, with similar or fewer temporary side effects — such as sore arms, fever or achiness — that teens experience, Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice-president, told The Associated Press.

Oksana Laurinaviciene says she is closer to vaccinating both her children so they are able to travel, see family and stay in school

Oksana Laurinaviciene says she is closer to vaccinating both her children so they are able to travel, see family and stay in school

Photo supplied

Despite her concerns, Laurinaviciene she says she will most likely go ahead with her kids’ vaccinations so they can stay in school and take part in extra-curricular activities.

“They will have to get it if they want to go sing in the choir, to take piano lessons or go to the swimming pool plus travel,” the 42-year-old said.

The issue of whether to vaccinate kids against COVID-19 has become a polarizing issue for parents in Canada.

According to a new Angus Reid survey published Monday, half of Canadian parents are ready to vaccinate their children aged five-11 as soon as the shots are approved, but 23 per cent say they will not. Nearly one in five said they would eventually vaccinate their kids but would wait a while first, whereas nine per cent were not sure.

Read more:
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The survey comes as Pfizer officially requested Health Canada to authorize the shots for children aged five to 11 years old following a submission of clinical trial data earlier this month.

In Canada, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is already approved and being rolled out to adolescents aged 12 and older.

According to data from the Pfizer’s Phase 3 trials conducted in adults, which included over 2,000 participants between 12 and 15 years of age, the safety profile of the vaccine in adolescents was similar as for older people.

A peer-reviewed study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on July 15 found that the Pfizer vaccine in 12-to-15-year-old recipients had a favourable safety profile, produced a greater immune response than in young adults, and was highly effective against COVID-19.

The debate around COVID-19 vaccines has already divided Canada’s vaccinated and unvaccinated populations, polling shows.

“Canadian parents are really … mirroring how they feel about vaccinating themselves, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic when vaccines were just coming online, not quite available,” said Angus Reid President Shachi Kurl.

Read more:
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Lily Kostur, a Canadian mother in her 30s, said she is “too afraid” to inject her two boys, aged seven and three, with the COVID-19 vaccine, saying it is “still experimental.”

“We should all have a choice and hopefully make the best decision for our children,” Kostur, who lives in Mississauga, said.

Health Canada says it will only give the green light to Pfizer’s pediatric shots after a thorough review of the data to make sure the benefits outweigh any potential risks for the younger age group.

Meanwhile, the issue of vaccinating children has taken parents to court.

Earlier this month, an Ontario Superior Court judge resolved a dispute between separated parents over whether to have their three teenage children vaccinated against COVID-19.

The mother alleged that the father had refused to let two of the triplets who lived with him attend school in person.

Read more:
Ontario government reviewing COVID-19 vaccine rollout plans for kids 5-11, minister says

The father argued that the children want to attend school in person but wish to receive the COVID-19 vaccination first and they were unable to do so because the mother had refused to give them their health cards or other identification.

Following public health directives, Justice Charney made an order on Oct. 1 that the vaccine should be made available to the children who expressed their wish to receive it.

In Ontario, under the Health Care Consent Act, there is no minimum age for capacity to make medical treatment decisions.

However, this varies across provinces. In Quebec, the age of consent to health care is 14 years of age and older. In British Columbia, you must be at least 19 to make a health-related decision.

Kevin Caspersz, a senior associate at Shulman & Partners LLP, said this latest ruling sets a precedent for other parents who do not meet eye-to-eye when it comes to the COVID-19 jabs for their children.

“If the judge or the court determines that it is in the best interests of the children for them to be vaccinated, then that’s the way the decision is going to go,” he said.

Following the approval for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 and above, Shulman & Partners LLP, which is a Toronto-based family law firm, started to receive an influx of calls from divorced parents regarding disagreements on vaccinating their children, Caspersz told Global News in May.

Difference in opinions between separated and divorced parents about vaccinating children against other diseases is generally rare, experts say. But the divide is growing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It definitely has become more polarized with COVID than most of the other vaccines,” said Dr. Fatima Kakkar, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at the CHU Sainte-Justine in Montreal.

Read more:
COVID-19 vaccine trials for children are ongoing. How do they differ from adults?

With the spread of misinformation on social media, questions around vaccination from both kids and parents have taken on a “new life”, she said, “which is unusual”.

Dr. Anna Banerji, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at the University of Toronto, said the parents’ concerns stem from having unanswered questions.

“I think it’s vaccine questioning more than hesitancy,” she told Global News in a previous interview.

“If people feel that it’s safe and it’s the best option for their child, especially to try to keep the kids in school for their mental health, then I think more people are going to accept the vaccine.”

For many parents, it has become a “controversial” issue, said Laurinaviciene, who is one of the admins of a Facebook group called Toronto Mommies.

“People are losing good relationships with family members just on the grounds of your vaccination standpoint. So this is a huge deal,” she said.

Read more:
COVID-19 hospitalizations among Canada’s children remain low despite Delta surge: experts

From a legal standpoint, when it comes to vaccinations, Caspersz said, “there is no middle ground”.

“The child’s either going to be vaccinated or not.”

He encouraged feuding parents to seek mediation to help work towards a decision. Other options are arbitration, which is like a trial but in a private setting, or take the case to court, where a judge would render a decision.

Whether parents are on the same page or not, Kakkar said the most important thing is to avoid having fights about the vaccine in front of the kids, as this could potentially create more family divisiveness and have a negative impact on the children.

If undecided or in case of a disagreement, she advised parents to seek outside medical opinion from the child’s pediatrician or family doctor.

“It’s important to have these discussions between parents, but to try and not bring in the child in the middle of the conflict,” she said.

“There are times where children will want the vaccine for a large number of different reasons and will be forced to choose parental side, so we don’t want to create any more family conflict than it already exists.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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