Swarms of anti-vaccination protesters took to the streets across Australia rallying against the Covid-19 vaccine just days before it rolls out.
Thousands joined the Millions March Against Mandatory COVID Vaccinations in Sydney’s Hyde Park, Melbourne‘s Fawkner Park in South Yarra, Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens and in Adelaide on Saturday.
Covid vaccines, which have been proven to be safe and effective, are due to be rolled out across Australia from Monday and are not mandatory.
Controversial celebrity chef and conspiracy theorist Pete Evans also made an appearance at the Sydney march, without shoes, much to the delight of protesters.
‘I don’t have the answers. No one is coming to save you except you,’ Evans cryptically told the protesters as he embarked on a rambling rant.
‘Each and every one of you has to stand up in whatever capacity you can.’
‘I begged people I thought could change the future of Australia. I f**king begged.
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Controversial celebrity chef and conspiracy theorist Pete Evans also made an appearance at the Sydney march, much to the delight of protestors
Hundreds joined the Millions March Against Mandatory COVID Vaccinations in Sydney’s Hyde Park (pictured) and Melbourne’s Fawkner Park in South Yarra on Saturday
Anti-vaxxers took to the streets across Australia rallying against the Covid-19 vaccine just days before it rolls out
‘But in the back of my mind there was this little guy going, ”you know you’re gonna have to do this”.’
Chants echoed throughout the streets as protesters walked through the CBD among a heavy police presence, with arrests already taking place in Melbourne.
‘Our bodies, our choice,’ the group chanted in Sydney.
‘F**k Bill Gates! We hope that Bill Gates liar goes to jail,’ another chant rang out.
Almost all protesters were holding outrageous placards saying it’s their decision to not get the vaccine.
‘The decision should be mine not yours,’ one read.
‘Stop poisoning us,’ another placard at the march read.
Celebrity chef Pete Evans is seen at the Sydney anti-vax march on Saturday
Pete Evans poses and takes photos with fans and protesters at the march in Sydney on Saturday
Protesters are seen in Melbourne’s Fawkner Park in South Yarra saying its their decision to not get the vaccine
‘Health cannot be injected’ and a ‘FREEDOM’ sign are seen at the anti-vax march on Saturday
Placards in Melbourne were also targetting Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews following his decision to implement a snap-five day lockdown to control a recent outbreak.
‘No confidence in Dan,’ it read.
Another simply had the words ‘FREEDOM’ printed across it.
‘Health cannot be injected,’ another read.
A speaker, known only as Jackie, told protesters in Melbourne that there is no pandemic.
‘They are trying to keep us safe from a non-existent pandemic,’ she yelled to the crowd, Herald Sun reported.
A protester holds a sign reading ‘no confidence in Dan’ following Melbourne’s five-day snap lockdown to contain an outbreak
A heavy police presence was surrounding the anti-vax march in Melbourne (pictured)
An anti-vaxxer is seen writing up her placard ahead of the march in Melbourne on Saturday
Covid-19 jabs will start on Monday as the nation pins its hopes on vaccines to forge a path out of the pandemic, which has seen Australia cut off from the rest of the world since March 20 2020.
The government is aiming for the roll out to be completed in October, sparking hopes of a return to normal life later in the year.
Asked if Australia could reopen to the world when immunisations are widespread, Scott Morrison said it was ‘very possible’.
‘But I’ve never got ahead of myself on this,’ he said.
Mr Morrison flagged significant changes to restrictions after jabs are delivered as evidence emerges about the success of programs overseas.
The prime minister said vaccines were likely to change coronavirus risks which could lead premiers to abandon snap lockdowns.
‘You only use a tool for as long as you need that tool,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘If you don’t need the tool anymore, you put it back in the box. We are getting to that point.’
An elderly man is seen at the anti-vaxx march in Melbourne with a sign around his neck that reads ‘violence control’
Protestors seen marching in Sydney’s CBD on Saturday against the Covid-19 vaccine
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured above) has raised hopes international borders could reopen once coronavirus vaccinations have been widely delivered across Australia
Hotel quarantine, border and frontline health workers will start receiving vaccinations next week but it won’t be mandatory.
Mr Morrison said federal and state health officers were monitoring whether to make vaccinations compulsory for some workers.
‘Should that be necessary, we would seek to do that on a nationally consistent basis exercised through consistent public health orders,’ he said.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd is adamant authorities will be able to roll out the program despite enormous logistical challenges.
A flying squad of 500 nurse immunisers will be dispatched around the nation to vaccinate aged care and disability residents who are in the initial phase.
Hubs at major hospitals will also be ground zero for the Pfizer drug, which is first cab off the rank.
As the program expands, the extensive network of general practices and pharmacies will join the effort.
‘This is the largest mass immunisation program we’ve ever had in Australia,’ Professor Kidd said.
‘But Australia, of course, has been doing incredibly well at so many levels throughout this pandemic and we do expect to be able to roll out the vaccine.’
Vaccinations for coronavirus in Australia won’t be mandatory, sparking fears many will opt out of the jab
He said Australia would be ‘up there’ with nations like the UK and the US in achieving fast vaccine rollouts.
The government is facing increased hesitancy about coronavirus vaccines despite major advertising campaigns.
An Australian National University survey of more than 3500 people found a significant decline in the number of people likely to receive a vaccine.
In January, about 20 per cent said they probably or definitely would not get a coronavirus jab once a safe and effective shot was available.
That’s up from 12 per cent in August.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that in December, 73 per cent of people agreed or strongly agreed they would get a coronavirus vaccine.
Mr Morrison said plans were in place to reassure, calm and encourage people about vaccinations.
HOW SAFE IS THE PFIZER VACCINE?
Scientists have carried out extensive clinical trials on the Pfizer vaccine and established that it is safe to use.
And the UK regulator rubber-stamped it with a seal of approval, saying it was safe to administer, after evaluating data from 44,000 volunteers in the trials.
But they issued an advisory notice saying that those with a history of allergies should not get the vaccine.
Concerns have been raised over the speed with which the vaccine was approved – in a matter of months – but scientists have said no corners were cut and this was possible due to the enormous number of volunteers that signed up for the clinical trials.
Pfizer and BioNTech both said they found no serious safety concerns during their four-month long trials.
A spokesman for Pfizer said their jab was ‘generally well tolerated with no serious safety concerns reported’.
‘The trial has enrolled over 44,000 participants to date, over 42,000 of whom have received a second vaccination.’
Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, said that the vaccine was ‘extremely safe’ and that he would be cautious about attributing the allergic reactions to the jab.
‘I think it’s probably safer in my view than many other vaccines currently available,’ he told MailOnline. ‘It really is very clean technology.’
‘I would be cautious about attributing the allergic reactions to the vaccine at this moment, especially as it hasn’t cropped up in clinical trials,’ he said.
‘The big allergic reaction to vaccines normally is an egg allergy, because historically influenza vaccines and several others have been grown in hens eggs and you inevitably get a bit of egg protein coming through with the final product.
‘But there’s nothing like that in the mRNA vaccine. The only addition is the lipid coating that they put on the mRNA before it goes into cells – but there’s no history of allergic reactions to that.’
He added that the MHRA had been ‘cautious’ in saying that those with a history of allergies should not get the vaccine.
Professor Heidi Larson, director of the Vaccine Confidence Project, told Sky News the vaccine was approved so quickly due to a ramping up of its clinical trials.
‘The safety regulatory process is still there but the time frame between things, they’ve tried to shorten, just in terms of it’s not sitting in a pile of things to be approved,’ she said.