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Mom of two says anti-vax protesters yelled, cursed outside pediatric vax clinic in Springfield

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Like the child in this picture, both of Alexis Sliwinski's young sons got their shot, despite protesters.

Recently, KLCC reported on the success of Lane County Public Health’s pediatric vaccination efforts. But not everyone is pleased with the coordinated push to vaccinate children.

Over the last couple of weeks, Alexis Sliwinski has talked to her two sons, who are 7 and 10, about what vaccines are and how they can help keep people safe.

Lane County Public Health
COVID-19 vaccination is approved for use in people 5 and up.

On Tuesday evening, Sliwinski and the kids arrived at Thurston High School in Springfield where they had appointments to get vaccinated. She said they were confronted by about 30 protesters. “They started yelling things. One that really stuck with me was, ‘You can’t un-do this!’”

That confused the kids and, Sliwinski said, it put her littlest in a bit of a panic.

“Pretty quick, my youngest son started crying. We got inside and everybody was wonderful. Lots of little toys and trinkets and things to keep them busy. They both got their vaccines. The person who gave us the shot-- a really wonderful guy,” she said. “We waited our 15 minutes. Eventually my youngest son did stop crying.”

Then they left. Sliwinski said she wasn’t even thinking about the protesters- until they got back outside. “And this time,” she said, “it felt very directed at me and very directed at my kids. They were yelling things like, ‘Your mother is a terrible parent! She’s letting the government experiment on your bodies!’ Through the megaphone. And it wasn’t just yelling anymore, it was screaming. And I heard the F-word several times.”

Again, her children didn’t understand what was happening. “At one point, she recounted, “my kid- the younger one said, ‘Why are they saying that? You’re not a terrible mom.’”

Instead of going out for a celebratory dinner, she says her kids said it was ok to just go home. Sliwinski says this experience was traumatic and she’s not alone. “Probably more than half the moms that I talked to said, ‘Oh yeah, that happened to us too.’”

One of the reasons why this mom shared her story is to provide a head’s up to other parents about what to expect in advance.

“I could have had both kids in headphones on the way in and the way out so they didn’t have to experience that,” she said.

Lane County Public Health officials are aware of the potential for protesters outside their pediatric vaccination clinics. They say they remain focused on safely vaccinating children.

Alexis Sliwinski said like most kids, hers are resilient. They have already gotten past the negative stuff that happened and concentrate on what being vaccinated against COVID-19 means to them.

“The younger son, I heard him telling someone, ‘pretty soon I get to hug all my friends without being scared.’ And that just felt really good to me.”

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.