Anti-vaccine protestors like the Taliban, says top doctor

Anti-vaccine protesters have been likened to the Taliban by one of Northern Ireland’s leading doctors.

By Niall Deeney
Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 9:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 8:57 am

Dr Tom Black, the Northern Ireland chair of the British Medical Association, made the comment specifically about protestors targeting pregnant women at a vaccine clinic held in Londonderry recently.

A series of walk-in vaccination clinics are being held across Northern Ireland amid growing concern about an “increasing” number of pregnant women being admitted to intensive care with the virus.

Last week, the Health and Social Care Board said emergency caesarian sections were carried out after a small number of pregnant women required intensive care.

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Press Eye - Belfast - 10th August 2021 A pop up vaccine centre open at Custom House Square earlier this month. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Walk-in vaccination clinics are being held at the Royal Victoria Hospital between 7am and 8.30pm each day for antenatal, postnatal and breastfeeding mothers.

A similar clinic in Londonderry at the weekend was the subject of a protest by those opposed to the coronavirus vaccine programme.

Dr Black, asked for his thoughts about the protests during a radio interview yesterday, told the BBC: “It’s disgraceful. I mean, imagine pinpointing pregnant women who have thought really long and hard about getting a vaccine to protect themselves and their unborn child. And you are going in and intimidating or trying to intimidate those women into not getting the vaccine.”

He continued: “What kind of society do we live in? I had a look last night to see where else has this happened and the answer is Afghanistan where the Taliban have had a campaign against the polio vaccination programme. I can’t think of anything else comparable, apart from maybe the Trump supporters in America shouting at journalists with masks on.

“We should be able to respect other people’s decisions in terms of looking after themselves and getting a vaccination. I think it’s least you could expect in a civilised society.”

NI’s chief medical officer, meanwhile, has urged young people aged 16 and over not to miss out on Covid-19 vaccination.

Professor Sir Michael McBride welcomed the ‘Big Jab Weekend’ initiative to improve vaccine take-up.

It will see the mass vaccination centres once again offering vaccine first doses to all eligible age groups – for two days only this Saturday and Sunday (August 21 and 22).

He said: “Young people have made huge sacrifices in this pandemic.

“Vaccination is their passport back to normality. It helps protect them and the people they care about. It also will be vital to helping our health service cope in the coming months.”