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)
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.
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.
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.”