Several thousand people have joined anti-vaccination protests across Australia, insisting it would have to be their choice, and not forced to be vaccinated because it is their body.
The Pfizer vaccine has arrived in the country and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has recently given the Oxford University-AstraZeneca jab the tick of approval.
Protests were held in cities including Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, with participants chanting slogans like: “My body, my choice.”
Australia’s medical regulator earlier this week also granted provisional approval for the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which is expected to be rolled out next month.
In Melbourne, some protesters clashed with police, who used pepper spray and made several arrests.
Police said 15 people would receive penalty notices for breaching its Covid-19 laws. Five others were charged for resisting arrest, hindering police and refusing to provide details, according to ABC.
Former Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans, who has been banned from Instagram and Facebook for repeatedly sharing misinformation about coronavirus, spoke at the rally in Sydney.
“I don’t care, you want the vaccine, take the vaccine but don’t force me to take it,” one protester said.
Meanwhile, in Brisbane, more than 1,000 protesters gathered in the Botanic Gardens.
Protesters gather in Brisbane’s Botanical Gardens to protest the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine across Australia, February 20, 2020.(ABC News: Phoebe Hosier)
In Adelaide, several hundred protesters marched through the city and gathered on the steps of South Australian Parliament. They said they were against “enforced COVID-19 vaccinations”.
According to the survey of 4,000 people, 48 per cent said they would get the vaccine as soon as it was available, while 71 per cent said they would choose to have it by October.
Secretary of the Health Department, Brendan Murphy, has said the majority of Australians will get the AstraZeneca vaccine, while the Pfizer version will be prioritized for those at higher risk, including frontline workers and those living in aged care facilities.
Australia has recorded just under 29,000 cases, and 909 deaths since the pandemic began.
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