B.C. high school teacher disciplined for 'angrily' disrupting school's COVID-19 vaccine clinic

A vaccine is shown in the hands of a health care professional. (Getty Images)

A teacher from Northern B.C. who "angrily" disrupted a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in a high school cafeteria and told kids the shots were "poisonous" has been formally reprimanded by the province's Commissioner for Teacher Regulation.

The details of the incident are outlined in a consent resolution agreement posted online Tuesday. In it, Patrick James Nelson, a teacher in the Coast Mountains district, admitted to the misconduct and agreed to the disciplinary action.

The school and the local health authority set up the vaccination clinic at the unnamed secondary school in October of 2021. Immunization was available, the agreement says, to students "who were legally able to make decisions for themselves."

One of the claims Nelson made in a "raised and angry voice" when he disrupted the vaccination clinic was that it was illegal to give kids the shot without parental permission, the agreement says.

There is no set age at which a minor can make their own medical decisions, but those under 19 are allowed to give consent to receive a vaccine if they are considered capable of understanding the risks and benefits, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

In addition to claiming the clinic was illegal, Nelson also made a number of claims about the vaccine itself and the staff who were administering them.

"The vaccines were experimental, dangerous, and poisonous and should not be used," the agreement summarizes Nelson as saying, as well as that "health authority staff were unethical in how they presented information on the vaccines and how they were offering the vaccines to students" and that "health authority staff should be ashamed of themselves."

The incident unfolded in front of students – some of whom reportedly left the cafeteria upset. The administration also had to be called in to respond to the situation.

When a health-care worker tried to intervene, Nelson "proceeded to yell and point his finger in the nurse’s face," the agreement says, adding that he was unmasked and standing within centimetres of the nurse at the time, which was a violation of the school's health and safety protocols

In March of 2022, Nelson was disciplined by the district. He was suspended for nine days without pay ordered to write a letter of apology to the impacted health-care workers, and required to attend a meeting with students and staff who witnessed the outburst. He was also required to complete a course on respectful workplace boundaries.

In addition to a formal reprimand from the commissioner, Nelson will be required to complete an additional course on conflict resolution.

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