Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam is urging “pregnant and breastfeeding people” to get vaccinated against COVID-19 instead of calling them women. 

Dr. Tam made this and other remarks in a Nov. 26 statement issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada.” 

“While Canada has achieved great success in vaccinating a significant proportion of our population against COVID-19, some groups lag behind in uptake. One key group that appears to have lower uptake of COVID-19 vaccines is people who are pregnant,” wrote Dr. Tam. 

“…research shows that breastmilk of people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 have antibodies, which may provide some protection. More research is needed to determine the level of protection provided to babies as a result of vaccination during pregnancy and breastfeeding.” 

This is not the first time that Dr. Tam has used woke language when speaking about pregnancy. In January, she issued a similar advisory urging “pregnant people” to get their flu shots. 

Dr. Tam’s language echoes the Liberal government’s messaging on gender-inclusive language. 

In 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau interrupted a woman after she used the word “mankind” and told her to use the term “peoplekind” instead. 

In November, the Region of Waterloo Public Health Twitter account issued a similar COVID-19 vaccine announcement referring to “pregnant people.” 

“Pregnant people are at an increased risk of severe illness requiring hospital care and admission to the ICU compared to those who are not pregnant. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine will help prevent bad outcomes for you and your baby,” read the tweet. 

Critics of the term have accused those who use it of erasing the biological reality of women because people who transition from male to female are not biologically capable of giving birth.

The advocacy group Canadian Women’s Sex-Based Rights criticized Dr. Tam’s use of the term on Twitter in April for being an “insensitive phrase which erases women.” 

With regard to the term “breastfeeding people” a BCCDC guide from August 2020 proposed the alternative “inclusive” term “chestfeeding.”

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