Published: 16:48, 11 September 2021
| Updated: 16:47, 14 September 2021
Anti-vaxxers began protesting in Bluewater shopping centre this afternoon.
Campaigners with placards stating "the vaccine is not safe or effective" have been pictured on the lower floor outside the entrance to Boots.
Outside, another group of demonstrators opposed to the expected roll-out to all healthy 12 to 15-year-olds is reported to have gathered outside the Marks & Spencer store by the main bus stop.
Operators at the shopping centre say the demonstration is being "managed peacefully".
A spokesman for Bluewater said: “There is a small demonstration at the centre.
"This is being managed peacefully by our security teams and the police.”
The gathering is not understood to have led to any incidents or arrests and there were estimated to be around 30 protestors in total.
Gravesend resident Sarah Turner, who is part of the anti-vaxx campaign group Rebels on Roundabouts, was among those in attendance.
She later explained the protest was held peacefully and in accordance with the instructions of Bluewater security officials.
The former nurse got involved as she is concerned over the rollout of jabs to kids and believes they are being "coerced" into the decision.
"Mothers are furious about what is happening," she said. "But they are most furious about their consent being taken away from them.
"Children love to be part of a group and will do whatever the other children are doing."
She added: "What they are doing is pitting children against parents."
A poll of KentOnline readers found the majority of people are in favour of children having the jab.
For many the sticking point was that it was optional, and that parents would be in control of making the decision.
It is expected that the vaccine will be given in schools and parents will be asked to give consent.
However, in law under 16's can be deemed capable of asking for – or refusing – vaccination without parental consent under the legal “Gillick competency test” provided they are deemed to fully understand the implications.
Today's protest comes as demonstrators opposed to roll-out of the Covid jab have been targeting schools across the county in recent days.
Last week, campaigners accosted children with leaflets and police were alerted to an alleged assault outside The Abbey School in Faversham.
Another anti-vaxxer group pitched up outside the Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School.
Activists with placards were also spotted in Chart Road, Ashford, at about 6pm on Saturday night.
On Monday, the UK's four chief medical officers recommended the single dose for 12 to 15-year-olds – who are deemed at very low risk from the disease –saying factors such as disruption to education tipped the balance.
On Tuesday, KentOnline was contacted by the man pictured holding a placard in the top photograph in the article.
He told us that he is not an "anti-vaxxer" as he doesn't oppose all vaccines – his issue is with the specific Covid jabs and potential health risks.
We are happy to clarify this matter.