Call for ‘buffer zones’ outside schools amid anti-vaccine protests at gates

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People attend an anti-vaccination protest in Plymouth (Katherine Denkinson and Alice McCool/The Citizen)
People attend an anti-vaccination protest in Plymouth (Katherine Denkinson and Alice McCool/The Citizen)

A Labour MP has called for “buffer zones” to be established outside schools as anti-vaccine protesters target pupils. 

Stella Creasy said people did not have an “open, uncontested right” to impose their views on others. 

Anti-vaxxers have targeted schools with protests and legal threats since coronavirus vaccines began being rolled out to 12- to 15-year-olds in England.

Some anti-vaxx groups on the messaging service Telegram have been mobilising members to visit areas around schools to approach teenagers to discuss vaccines and spread misinformation.

Ms Creasy, the MP for Walthamstow, told Politics Home she thought the government should introduce buffer zones measures around schools amid the protests. 

This would give local authorities more power to prevent anti-vaccine protesters from gathering in the vicinity.

“Children should be able to get to school in peace,” the Labour MP told Politics Home.

“For me the parallels are very clear with the buffer zone argument we’ve had about abortion clinics.”

Ms Creasy added: “You don’t have an open, uncontested right to foist your views on other people, especially when it’s very clear these kids have said no, and these adults are continuing.”

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has suggested headteachers who believe protests could be held outside their school over participation in the Covid vaccination programme should contact police to help manage the situation.

One headteacher in Nottingham said he had been in contact with police last month after staff received threatening messages and an “unwelcome visitor” came onsite as part of an ongoing campaign against the Covid vaccine rollout to children.

Anti-vaxx protesters have also sent headteachers fake NHS “consent checklists” and told them to distribute these to parents, in what one school leader told The Independent was a “very convincing hoax”. 

Videos on anti-vaxx Telegram groups have also shown people approaching students in uniform to spread misinformation about the vaccine and hand out leaflets. 

The Department for Education has been approached for comment.

Watch: UK Housing Secretary Michael Gove Swarmed by Anti-Vax Protesters Outside Home Office

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