Greater Sudbury Police Service (GSPS) is providing security at some COVID-19 vaccination clinics being held by Public Health Sudbury and District (PHSD). Both organizations have confirmed that police have provided a presence at select venues to ensure the safety of the public.
Police officers have been seen at recent PHSD pop-up clinics to ensure that members of the public seeking vaccines can do so without being approached or bothered by other individuals who are either opposed to the vaccine program, or opposed to the recent concept of vaccine mandates.
In Sudbury, "paid duty" officers have been providing the service at the request of the health unit.
Kaitlyn Dunn, corporate communications co-ordinator at GSPS, explained that a paid duty officer is an off-duty police officer hired on a contract basis to provide security and law enforcement at certain community events such as weddings, funerals, sporting events, concerts, traffic control and film shoots.
"The role of police at any paid-duty assignment is to keep the peace," said Dunn, adding that officers have the same authority as any other officer.
"Throughout the pandemic, paid duty officers have provided police presence at a variety of functions including vaccination clinics to ensure public safety during these public clinics. There have been some anti-vax/anti-passport assemblies which have been addressed as needed in order to keep the peace and public order," said Dunn.
The health unit said police officers and security firms are hired for the safety of the public as well as for staff members.
"Public Health Sudbury & Districts has a responsibility to ensure the safety of clients attending its clinics as well as the safety of the staff working the clinics," said the PHSD communications office.
If safety concerns arise or are identified, Public Health assesses the needs and options, which can include contacting police for assistance as well as contracting with security companies," said PHSD.
The issue of security at public vaccination venues was addressed in a news release from the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) on Tuesday. RNAO was commenting on the issue of anti-vaccine protests happening in Ontario.
"RNAO expresses grave concern about the escalating violence and the inadequate action to avert these situations by local authorities and police services. There should be strong action attached and consequences against those who transgress the law. Charges must be vigorously pursued against those who attack health workers, engage in acts of violence, or express hate," said the news release from that organization.
PHSD said Tuesday it is holding several vaccination clinics throughout the week in its bid to increase the number of area residents who are fully vaccinated. PHSD is also providing “third shot” vaccinations as boosters to individuals that have been identified as immuno-challenged.