Canada’s Toronto St. Michael’s Hospital has enlisted several city superheroes in an attempt to lure non-vaccinators to a high-level vaccination event Wednesday afternoon.
T-Bros, a group of superheroes who ply their trade in sport uniforms, are all trained to calmly and civilly confront people who refuse vaccinations — all because that’s the job of superheroes, you know.
No superheroes will be running, of course, so children can now fully exercise their parental rights to immunize themselves without fear.
“We have put on this event in order to promote public safety, to raise awareness about immunization, and to keep our communities and our children protected,” said Dr. Jennifer McKenzie, chief medical officer of family health for Toronto, according to CBC News.
In previous years, the hospital has invited public health workers to participate. But this year, it needed more superheroes to fill out the roster, McKenzie said. The St. Michael’s superhero team, which includes Jake, the Green Ranger, Timmy, the Pink Ranger, Rinzo the Scorpion, and Charlie the Bravado, are volunteering their services.
“We’re supporting public health to make immunization more accessible and consistent,” said Jake, who declines to give his last name. “It’s very important.”
T-Bros have been contacted by Canadian public health officials to promote vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella, said Alex Henriksen, a member of the group who plays Balamory and has been a superhero since the age of 12.
Henriksen said he personally knew people who died from vaccination refusals, and he has spoken to two classmates who are sick after refusing vaccinations.
“That scared me,” he said. “Why would anyone jeopardize their health just to go for a ride?”
In the U.S., a surge in disease outbreaks prompted by vaccine refusal has been taking place for years. Since 2011, 147 measles cases have been reported each year across the U.S., with most of them linked to unvaccinated people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. clusters have grown significantly larger each year. In 2017, there were more than 4,000 cases reported across the country.
The National Vaccine Information Center, which pushes anti-vaccine beliefs, released a video Monday designed to promote vaccination refusal.
The most recent data available, from 2014, shows that 82 percent of people in Washington state had been vaccinated, including 93 percent of children, according to the Washington State Department of Health. The North American Swine Virus Vaccine Bulletin reported an outbreak in Tennessee among unvaccinated pigs in 2018.
Canada’s various superhero fundraisers appear to have an identity crisis. In 2017, Spider-Man removed himself from a Comic Con after members of the British Columbia Emergency Medical Services Association said they feared being physically attacked by fans of Spider-Man.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has faced criticism after a trailer showed Spidey shooting bullets at criminals in the depths of a sewer.