Windsor

Health-care leaders show support for Windsor doctor who was targeted by protesters

Backlash against a local pediatrician prompted a joint statement from Windsor Regional Hospital, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and Essex County Medical Society this week.

Health leaders are 'united in their condemnation' of the protest at Dr. Huma Kazmie's office

A woman stands in a doctor's coat holding a pamphlet that says "Prescription for Ontario."
Dr. Huma Kazmie is a pediatrician in Windsor, Ont. (Submitted by Dr. Huma Kazmie)

She's spoken out about the importance of COVID-19 vaccines for children. Now Windsor pediatrician Dr. Huma Kazmie is facing backlash from protesters, and health-care leaders are going public in their support for her.

Windsor Regional Hospital, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and Essex County Medical Society issued a joint statement in support of Kazmie after anti-vaccination protesters gathered outside her office this week.

In a statement released on Thursday, medical leaders from all three organizations said they "stand united in their condemnation in the strongest possible terms the anti-vaccination protests that have taken place this week outside Dr. Huma Kazmie's office in Windsor."

Kazmie had done an interview with CBC Radio's Windsor Morning host Nav Nanwa last Thursday, promoting the benefits of getting children vaccinated against COVID-19.

"I think today is the day to celebrate that our younger population also has availability and eligibility for this vaccine," she said.

"There have been studies done in more than 6,000 babies and children under five years, and studies are conducted in the U.S. and Canada. Among these 6,000-plus kids, there was not a single case of severe, really severe side effects."

After that interview, and another one on a similar topic with a local newspaper, protesters unhappy with Kazmie's message targeted her office.

Leaders from the local hospital, health unit and medical society reacted to the protests in a statement, saying Kazmie "should be celebrated for her contributions to the care for our community's children."

"While we encourage public discourse and respect the rights of individuals to speak out and express their feelings through protest, attempting to intimidate parents and children who have made a decision to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine is not appropriate. As well, public discourse should not interfere with access to medical care children need to address other medical concerns."

Windsor-Essex's acting medical officer of health, Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, said protesters need to be aware of the impact they may be having on children and parents visiting the doctor's office.

"The doctor affected by this has served the Windsor-Essex community for 20 years. She treats thousands of children, some of those children have significant medical problems... It is stressful for children and parents to have to cross or deal with protestors... when they're trying to get their children basic and important medical care."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aastha Shetty

CBC journalist

Aastha Shetty can be reached via email aastha.shetty@cbc.ca or by tweeting her at @aastha_shetty

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