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Liverpool headteachers describe ‘sinister’ tactics of anti-vaxx protesters

Headteachers

Liverpool headteachers describe ‘sinister’ tactics of anti-vaxx protesters

Headteachers have described the “sinister” intimidation tactics being used by protesters against the vaccination against Covid of teenagers in schools.

“It started with a few emails from a group calling itself Lawyers for Freedom,” the Guardian was told by the headteacher of one of a number of Liverpool schools that have come under pressure from anti-vaccine activists. “An email is relatively easy to ignore.”

The protests soon escalated, however, with “aggressive” leafleting of pupils by five or six protesters as they left school. The head dialled 999, but the police did not come.

“It felt disproportionate,” said the head. “We know there was at least one student who came back into school and was quite upset by what was going on.”

That was followed by a visit from a small group of protesters who gained access to the school, demanded to meet the head, then served quasi-legal documents warning that they would be held legally responsible if any child suffered death or harm from these “experimental vaccines”.

The same has happened at a number of Liverpool secondary schools. The encounters were typically filmed on a mobile phone then posted on the social media app Telegram by a group calling itself Liverpool’s People’s Resistance UK, naming schools and in some cases teachers, declaring, “Notice served.”

“It was pretty aggressive,” the head said. “They came up to reception asking to speak to the headteacher about a legal matter. They insist on reading from a script and they film the whole process on a mobile.

“Once they’ve handed the papers over, they tend to disappear. They’ve got the footage they want. It almost feels like it’s a trophy. There are Trumpian undertones to what these groups are doing. If they started describing themselves as patriots, I wouldn’t be surprised.”

The numbers of protesters involved is hard to pin down. An investigation by the Liverpool Post found that parents appeared to be contacting a group administrator called George to arrange for a visit and for papers to be served on their school. Having visited the school, they then boast about frightening teachers and at one point say about a headteacher: “She can’t run, she can’t hide.”

The head who spoke to the Guardian said he thought that some of the anger was from disenfranchised parents who were using the vaccine to pursue other grievances with their school. “To what extent the vaccine is a contributory factor, I don’t know,” he said. “What these sorts of groups are doing is saying, ‘We can do things. We can intimidate schools.’ It is sinister. Headship is a challenging enough vocation as it is. I fear what intimidation of this nature might do to future headship recruitment.”

A spokesperson for the Association of School and College Leaders agreed there were “sinister undertones” to what was happening in Liverpool, but they had not heard of this kind of organised activity elsewhere.

Elsewhere, anti-vaccine protesters have caused distress to pupils and staff while picketing school gates. Pupils at St Thomas More Catholic School in Blaydon, Gateshead, were distraught after anti-vaccine protesters showed them pictures of what appeared to be dead children.

Thames Valley police were investigating reports that a teacher was verbally abused by protesters at Beaconsfield School, one of a number of anti-vaccination protests at schools in Buckinghamshire. In Kent, police have been asked to lay on extra patrols after pupils were targeted by protesters.

A government spokesperson said: “It is never acceptable for anyone to pressurise or intimidate pupils, teachers or the wider school community, and protesters engaging in this type of behaviour should immediately bring it to an end. The police and local authorities have a range of powers available for managing protests at a local level and these can be used where appropriate.”

Supt Pete Steenhuis of Kent police said: “We respect that everyone has a right to peaceful protest and will balance these rights against the potential for disruption outside Kent and Medway schools.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, called for protesters to behave more responsibly. “Whatever your views on vaccination, it is never OK to make children feel scared and intimidated as they arrive at school.

“People have the right to express their concerns, but this must be done appropriately. Schools are not the place for angry protests. We would urge anti-vaccination campaigners to behave more responsibly and to carefully consider the impact their actions are having on children.”

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Malawi Commences Large Scale Malaria Vaccination- First In The World

Malawi has commenced large-scale vaccination of children against malaria.

This is the first large-scale malaria vaccination campaign since the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsed the widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine in October 2021.

The endorsement followed a two-year vaccination programme, which involved more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

Recommended for children from five months of age to around 18 months, the vaccine  has an efficacy of 39 percent.

The first phase of the vaccination in Malawi is expected to cover 11 of the country’s 28 districts.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the WHO in Malawi said the expansion of access to the malaria vaccine will enable more children at risk of malaria to benefit from an additional prevention tool.

“Malawi has expanded access to the first malaria vaccine! The expansion of the RTS,S Malaria vaccine, into the 11 districts that participated in the malaria vaccine implementation program (MVIP) has been launched today. The vaccine offers a glimmer hope for Malawi,” WHO wrote.

Michael Kayange, Malawi’s national malaria control programme manager, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa that although the vaccine has low efficacy, “in malaria control, there is no single intervention that does it all”.

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Nigeria Yet To Attain 70% Covid-19 Vaccination Coverage- NPHCDA

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that Nigeria is yet to achieve 70 percent coverage for COVID-19 vaccination.

Faisal Shuaib, executive director of NPHCDA, said on Tuesday that as of November 25, a total of 56,790,371 eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are fully vaccinated while 12,492,646 are partially vaccinated in 36 states and the FCT.

“We are 21.6 million eligible persons away from reaching its target of fully vaccinating 70 percent of its eligible population by December 2022,” he said.

“But 62 percent of the country’s eligible population is at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The country has fully vaccinated half of the total population eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

“We have also fully vaccinated an additional over 25 percent of its eligible population, in the last 110 days of SCALES 3.0 implementation.”

The executive director said 13.2 percent of fully vaccinated persons in the country have received the COVID-19 booster dose for additional protection against the virus.

He commended the COVID-19 strategy group for achieving 50 percent vaccination coverage in the country and promised that the momentum would be sustained.

Shuaib said he has also directed the team to intensify efforts toward the attainment of herd immunity.

“Until this is achieved, the strategy group will continue to develop strategies that will help the country achieve health security,” he said.

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Amid Racism Concerns, WHO Renames Monkeypox “mpox”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended ‘mpox’ as a new name for monkeypox.

In a statement on Monday, the organisation said its move was prompted by concerns of “racist and stigmatising language online”.

“Following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO will begin using a new preferred term “mpox” as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while “monkeypox” is phased out,” the statement reads.

“WHO, in accordance with the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) update process, held consultations to gather views from a range of experts, as well as countries and the general public, who were invited to submit suggestions for new names.

“Mpox will become a preferred term, replacing monkeypox, after a transition period of one year. This serves to mitigate the concerns raised by experts about confusion caused by a name change in the midst of a global outbreak. It also gives time to complete the ICD update process and to update WHO publications.

“The synonym mpox will be included in the ICD-10 online in the coming days. It will be a part of the official 2023 release of ICD-11, which is the current global standard for health data, clinical documentation and statistical aggregation.

“Various advisory bodies were heard during the consultation process, including experts from the medical and scientific and classification and statistics advisory committees which constituted of representatives from government authorities of 45 different countries.

“The issue of the use of the new name in different languages was extensively discussed. The preferred term mpox can be used in other languages. If additional naming issues arise, these will be addressed via the same mechanism. Translations are usually discussed in formal collaboration with relevant government authorities and the related scientific societies.

“WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name.”

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