Experts warn of harmful misinformation as Windsor shop restricts vaccinated people from entering
'This type of rhetoric that is spread can affect the health and safety of Canadians'
Health experts say the COVID-19 vaccine beliefs held by one Windsor shop owner are "extremely dangerous" and are part of a host of "misinformation" that has been running rampant since the pandemic began.
Tony Pantalleresco, owner of Herb Plus Bead Works on Ottawa Street, is denying access to his shop to anyone who has received a vaccine as he says the effects of the shot are unknown and he doesn't want to be responsible for any adverse reactions someone might have. He said he also worries that he and other customers could contract the vaccine's side effects from others.
Pantalleresco's beliefs ares ones that Krishana Sankar, a scientist and science communications lead for COVID-19 resources Canada, said are harmful and are not based on scientific evidence.
She said they stem from "a lack of knowledge and lack of understanding" on how basic biology and the vaccine operate.
Signs in the windows of Pantalleresco's shop tell customers that he doesn't want vaccinated people indoors as his insurance company, which he does not name, will not be liable for anyone who feels unwell from the shot.
He says his store, which sells vitamins and protein powders, is allowed to stay open to in-person shopping as it is considered essential. CBC News has reached out to the health unit to confirm this but has yet to hear back.
"There's absolutely no evidence to say that someone who is vaccinated will cause harm to someone who is unvaccinated." - Krishana Sankar, scientist and science communication expert
When speaking with CBC News, Pantalleresco repeatedly said he worried about "leakage" of the vaccine from someone and having that infect him.
"Why would I take the chance of somebody walking in and possibly infecting me with something that they might have something out of their bodies? We don't know," Pantalleresco told CBC News.
He says the signs on his shop went up about three weeks ago following an incident at a gym in British Columbia, where he alleges the owners said their insurance companies told them they shouldn't have anyone in their building who has been immunized.
B.C.'s public health department, Interior Health, said in an email to CBC News that "there is no public health basis for a policy excluding people who are immunized against COVID-19. Immunization prevents the spread of disease and protects patrons and staff."
It did confirm that it issued an order and ticket for non-compliance to public health orders to a gym in February, though it did not say whether the gym was promoting the same rhetoric as Pantalleresco.
All vaccines are 'safe and effective': health unit
While Sankar says she has heard a lot of misinformation related to the pandemic, she said this is the first time she's heard of Pantalleresco's comments.
"There's absolutely no evidence to say that someone who is vaccinated will cause harm to someone who is unvaccinated," she said.
"This type of rhetoric that is spread can affect the health and safety of Canadians."
"Unfortunately a lot of the accurate information is not in spaces that is better accessible to people," she said, adding that because of this people will turn to information that is more readily accessible, but that isn't always where the appropriate sources are.
Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said that he hasn't seen a lot of this type of rhetoric locally and isn't aware of the shop on Ottawa Street.
He said anyone with questions around vaccines should go to accredited websites.
"Please go to the credible resources, come to our health unit website, go to the national advisory committee on immunization website, get to some credible authentic website rather than getting your information from Facebook or some other sources that are not credible," he said.
"All these vaccines are safe and effective in preventing the complications related with COVID."