Anti-Vaxxer Attacks Health Workers Who Refused Him Vaccination Certificate

The incident is just the latest violent incident linked to Germany’s volatile anti-vaxx scene, where extremist protesters have carried out arson attacks and firebombings on targets.
Anti-Vaxxer Attacks Healthcare Workers Who Refused Him Vaccination Certificate
Photo: File Photo / Bodo Schackow/picture alliance via Getty Images

Two German health care workers were attacked during a vaccination drive by a man who refused to get a jab in the latest violent incident linked to anti-vaxx sentiment.

German police said they had arrested a man accused of injuring a nurse and an assistant vaccinating people at a shopping centre in Gera, a city in the state of Thuringia on Saturday. 

According to police, the man had approached the medical staff and asked for a certificate of vaccination, but refused to have an injection. When he was denied the certificate, he became violent and assaulted them.

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The two victims were treated in hospital for their injuries but have since been discharged, while the attack meant the vaccination team had to suspend its work for the day. The suspect – who was not named in accordance with German privacy laws – was soon tracked down by officers and arrested.

The violence was condemned by politicians and Germany’s medical association, the  Kassenärztlichen Vereinigung (the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians).

“The agitation of the opponents of vaccination is turning into action. We as a society cannot accept that,” Thuringia's Minister of Health, Heike Werner, told reporters.

Annette Rommel, chair of Thuringia’s branch of the medical association, said it was “inconceivable that people who are highly committed to fighting the corona pandemic on the front lines are being attacked.”

READ: Covid conspiracies are supercharging Germany's far-right

Nicholas Potter, a researcher at German anti-racist group Amadeu Antonio Foundation who tracks the country’s volatile anti-lockdown movement, said the attack was just “the latest in a long list of assaults, abuse and aggressive behaviour from the anti-vaxxer scene in Germany.”

That’s included arson and Molotov cocktail attacks, vandalism, and even a homemade explosive that detonated in front of a Berlin research institute in October. The increasing radicalisation of the movement has led to it being monitored as a potential extremist threat by the domestic intelligence agency in at least one German state.

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“The conspiracy-driven, anti-Semitic and anti-democratic rhetoric of the so-called ‘Querdenken’ (lateral thinkers) movement increasingly leads to violent actions,” Potter told VICE World News.

READ: German anti-lockdown protesters placed under surveillance amid extremism fears

He said that Telegram groups where anti-vaxxers congregated were full of rampant conspiracy theories about the “corona dictatorship,” and that the vaccination drive was part of a plan to kill or enslave the masses. 

READ: Anti-lockdown protesters tried and failed to capture a Scottish castle

"For too long, authorities have underestimated the threat posed by anti-vaxxers and conspiracy ideologues,” he said. “These aren’t just anti-authoritarian hippies rallying against Big Pharma, these are increasingly radicalised opponents of health measures who resort to violence to achieve their political aims.”