One of the largest vaccination sites in the country briefly shut down Saturday afternoon because maskless, anti-vaccine protesters blocked the entrance, officials said.
For nearly an hour, thousands of motorists in line to get a coronavirus vaccine shot at Dodger Stadium were stalled as about 50 people demonstrating against immunization efforts caused officials to temporarily close the site’s gates, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman David Ortiz told The Washington Post. The protest had no impact on the number of shots given Saturday at the site, which can vaccinate 8,000 people a day, Ortiz said.
No arrests were made, according to police.
The protesters, members of anti-vaccine and far-right groups, organized online, according to The Los Angeles Times, which first reported about the closure caused by the “SCAMDEMIC PROTEST/MARCH.”
“Please refrain from wearing Trump/MAGA attire as we want our statement to resonate with the sheeple,” a social media post for the planned demonstration said, according to the newspaper.
Dozens of protesters arrived at the site Saturday, many carrying signs with messages undermining efforts to curb infections and calling the pandemic that has killed more than 438,000 Americans a “scam.” “END THE LOCKDOWN,” read one sign. “COVID=SCAM,” another said. One protester wore a Grim Reaper costume. Some shouted and gestured at people waiting in their cars.
With limited vaccine supply and high demand, coronavirus vaccines are difficult to come by. Saturday’s disruptive protest further complicated a strenuous process for those with appointments.
Los Angeles-based singer Adam Michaelson, who brought his 81-year-old mother to the stadium for her first dose of the Moderna vaccine, estimated the demonstration delayed them for about an hour.
“It’s just disappointing,” Michaelson said in an interview. “I realize there are people who have been anti-vaxxers for a while but to take this extra step of trying to prevent other people from getting it just to me seems like a whole new level of evil.”
Michaelson said he and several other drivers nearly left the site when one protester who was dressed as a police officer directed them out of line.
Mikel Jollett, frontman for the band Airborne Toxic Event, tweeted he was in line to get his mother the vaccine when the site was closed.
“We have been sitting here for about half an hour,” he wrote. “Nobody is moving.”
In the end, Jollett’s mother and others in line were able to get their shots.
“My 69 year old high risk mom Bonnie got the jab!” he updated. “She said she could hardly even feel it. We teared up. We’ve waited a year for this. Get your vaccine.”