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Tracking COVID-19 at UCLASundance 2022

Protesters gather in Westwood to oppose LA County COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Anti-vaccine mandate protesters (pictured) walk down Westwood Boulevard on Sunday afternoon. The dozens of protesters shouted slogans through megaphones and carried signs with phrases such as “No jabs 4 jobs” and “COVID is a scam.” (Constanza Montemayor/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Victoria Li and Constanza Montemayor

Nov. 15, 2021 11:45 a.m.

More than 30 protesters gathered outside a Westwood CVS Pharmacy to oppose the Los Angeles County COVID-19 vaccine mandates Sunday.

The protest began around 2 p.m. at the corner of Weyburn Avenue and Westwood Boulevard, said Wiep de Vries, a nurse attending the protest. Several protesters shouted at passersby through megaphones and many carried signs with phrases including “No jabs 4 jobs,” “COVID is a scam,” “No to vaccine mandate” and “Vaccines kill.”

Some waved American flags while one individual carried a flag reading “Don’t tread on me” and another referred to President Joe Biden with an expletive.

At around 4 p.m., the protesters moved toward Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center but returned to CVS Pharmacy soon after 4:30 p.m., chanting “Wake up LA.”

Multiple anti-vaccine mandate protests have taken place in Westwood this year. Individuals at a protest in October claimed the vaccines were a form of medical experimentation.

[Related: UCLA Health employee organizes protest against healthcare worker vaccine mandate]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all authorized vaccines are safe and effective at reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19 or developing severe symptoms.

De Vries said she thinks the vaccine is unnecessary because vaccinated people can still be infected with COVID-19.

Although breakthrough infections do occur, they are rare, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Fully vaccinated individuals are also less likely to develop serious symptoms and be hospitalized for COVID-19, according to the CDC.

An individual across the street from CVS Pharmacy holding a sign protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates. (Constanza Montemayor/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Candice Rosen, a nurse at the protest, said she was not against the COVID-19 vaccine – despite being unvaccinated – but believed administering the vaccine violated informed consent.

However, federal law does require providers to give individuals vaccine information statements with a list of the benefits and risks before administering doses of vaccine, according to the CDC.

Irom Thockchom, a mathematics alumnus sitting at a store near the protesters, said he understood if people were wary about medical institutions prioritizing profits over care but believed the protesters were misled about the safety of the vaccine.

“If you look at the actual data, … it makes sense to get vaccinated, and we could be done with the pandemic if people would get vaccinated,” said Thockchom, who is vaccinated.

He added that the protestors were incorrectly appropriating terms such as medical apartheid – originally used to describe denying groups access to medical technology – to further their cause. Actual medical apartheid is not comparable to simply not being able to enter a store because someone is not vaccinated, he said.

Sabina Wildman, a sociology alumnus from UC Santa Cruz seated nearby, said she believed the protesters’ discontent stems from the economic fallout of the pandemic, such as difficulty paying rent or the widening wealth gap.

“We’re not actually getting our needs met, and something’s wrong with the system,” Wildman said. “But it’s not COVID – it’s really capitalism in crisis.”

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Victoria Li | Science and Health editor
Li is the 2021-2022 science and health editor. She was previously a contributor for the science and health beat. She is also a third-year human biology and society student at UCLA who enjoys writing about research and public health.
Li is the 2021-2022 science and health editor. She was previously a contributor for the science and health beat. She is also a third-year human biology and society student at UCLA who enjoys writing about research and public health.
Constanza Montemayor | Features and student life editor
Montemayor is currently the 2020-2021 features and student life editor. She was previously a News reporter, Photo contributor for the news beat and Arts contributor. She is also a second-year global studies student at UCLA.
Montemayor is currently the 2020-2021 features and student life editor. She was previously a News reporter, Photo contributor for the news beat and Arts contributor. She is also a second-year global studies student at UCLA.
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