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Pharmacist calls for tougher action against anti-vaxxers targeting medical facilities

Key points:

  • The man accused pharmacy staff of administering deadly “vaxations” [sic]
  • The NSW Pharmacy Guild says such confrontations are increasingly common
  • The same Facebook page that uploaded video of the incident also posted footage of a protest at Wollongong courthouse

A New South Wales pharmacist says he and his staff are feeling shaken after an anti-vaxxer accused them of being “complicit in murder”.

Last week two people were filming as they entered Bowdens Discount Chemist in Port Kembla after seeing a sign out the front encouraging passers-by to “speak to us today about vaccination”.

“Can I talk to you about all the deaths and the sickness that we’ve got from this vaccination?” the man asks the woman behind the counter, in the footage.

The staff member advises the man to speak to a doctor, but he contends that the sign invited him to enquire within.

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“No, but you’re giving that vaxations [sic] out — you’re giving them here,” the man says.

“Why do I need a doctor when I can come and get a death shot right here?”

The man then accuses the staff of being “complicit in murder” before pharmacist Hany Barsoum recommends he speak to the department of health about the matter, noting that it was the department that issued the signs.

The man and woman then leave the store and the man says “f*** ’em, they’re killing people” as he walks up the street.

A personal Facebook page connected to a sovereign citizen group uploaded the video of the altercation to the social media platform.

NSW Police confirmed they reviewed footage of the incident but did not press charges.

‘Pretty confronting’

Mr Barsoum, who has owned and operated the business for 15 years, said he was rattled by the incident.

“I was definitely concerned for the safety of our staff,” he said.

“The situation could have been really bad.”

Mr Barsoum said he would like to see stronger protections for pharmacists.

“I think the police maybe should have more powers to protect medical facilities,” he said.

“We’re trying to serve the community and we’re providing a medical service, so we would like to see maybe more fines.”

NSW Pharmacy Guild president David Heffernan said pharmacists being targeted by anti-vaxxers was becoming more common.

“There has been a clear increase of incidents of [people] pointing the finger at pharmacists as a problem because they administered the COVID vaccine,” he said.

Mr Heffernen said another colleague recently had paper crosses placed in their front lawn by protesters to symbolise deaths they believed the vaccine had caused.

“It’s pretty personal and pretty confronting, and quite frankly unacceptable,” he said.

Courtroom protest

The Port Kembla incident preceded a protest inside a Wollongong courtroom yesterday that involved about 30 people.

NSW Police said they were called to the court at about 10am following reports of a verbal altercation inside a courtroom.

They were escorted from the building by court sheriffs, but one man allegedly refused to leave and was arrested and charged.

Footage of the incident was uploaded to Facebook via the same account that posted the video of the exchange in Port Kembla.

In the video, the group says a man was pepper sprayed during the altercation, but neither NSW Courts police have responded to questions about that claim.

The group was there in support of local man Glen Edward Short, who was convicted in absence of a string of traffic offences, including driving without a licence, driving an unregistered vehicle, refusing to take a breath test and hindering or resisting a police officer in the execution of their duty.

Short shared a video of the interaction on Facebook at the time.

Photo supplied by Bowden Discount Pharmacy via ABC News.

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