By Helen Greenia
SACRAMENTO, CA – Legislation signed by the governor to prevent anti-vaccine extremists from interfering with the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine has been upheld by the courts, according to State Senator and pediatrician, Dr. Richard Pan.
“Preventing contagious diseases through vaccination is in the public interest, and a court has denied efforts to halt implementation of a provision that prohibits obstructing, injuring, intimidating or interfering with patients and health care workers at vaccination sites,” said Dr. Pan, who authored SB742.
Pan, who believes that the ruling will help fight against the pandemic, explained that having access to the COVID-19 vaccine is imperative to saving lives. As a result, the judge ruled against the anti-vaccine community, who have attempted to prevent individuals from receiving the vaccine.
In Sept., Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 742, a law that provides officials the jurisdiction to allow people to receive the vaccine safely.
The law specifically states: “This bill would make it unlawful for a person to knowingly approach a person or an occupied vehicle at a vaccination site, as specified, for the purpose of obstructing, injuring, harassing, intimidating, or interfering with, as defined, that person or vehicle occupant.”
The measure defines “vaccination site” as the “physical location where vaccination services are provided, including, but not limited to, a hospital, physician’s office, clinic, or any retail space or pop-up location made available for large-scale vaccination services.”
The SB 742 does not violate a person’s First Amendment rights, said supporters, but would prevents anti-vaccine advocates from harassing or assaulting other people receiving the vaccine.
Anti-vaccine “extremists,” said proponents of SB 742, have used intimidation, physical obstruction, harassment, and violence to prevent others from accessing the COVID-19 vaccine.
In Jan. of this year, Dodger Stadium was used as a vaccination site and was temporarily shut down after anti-vaccine activists protested against the vaccine at the location and shouted at people not to receive the vaccine.
Protestors stood in line telling people the vaccine is dangerous. Healthcare workers and the elderly wanted to receive their vaccine in order to prevent themselves and others from the life threatening illness, however they were subjected to harassment from anti-vaccine extremists, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The LA Times wrote that protesters held signs that said: “Save Your Soul TURN BACK NOW,” “CNN IS LYING TO YOU,” “RECALL GAVIN NEWSOM” and “TAKE OFF YOUR MASK.” Others handed out pamphlets to those entering the vaccination site.
German Vaquez, a dentist and patient at the Dodger Stadium was receiving the vaccine to protect himself and his patients. He stated, “I want to be safe for my patients and for my family. The vaccine is the only way to beat the virus.”
The gates of the Dodger Stadium were closed to prevent protestors from infiltrating the site for approximately an hour. This is not the only location in the U.S. to face protests.
Executive Director of the California Immunization Coalition, Catherine Flores Martin, stated, “Over this past year, we have seen overwhelming community support for vaccinations to protect children and adults. Through the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine, we have a safe and effective way to prevent the devastating impact of the virus and I am happy to see the court recognize and uphold the rights of people who simply want to access the vaccine.”
SB 742 would levy a fine up to $1,000, imprisonment for six months, or both for those defying the new law.