Coronavirus: 'Terrifying' Voices for Freedom protesters descend on vaccine centre - but healthcare workers inside ease children's fears

An Auckland mum and her two children endured anti-vaccine protesters banging on their car windows and scaring them as they queued to get vaccinated.

The mum, who has asked to remain anonymous, took her two children, aged seven and 10 years old, to the drive-through vaccine centre at Eventfinda Stadium on the North Shore on Monday afternoon. Monday was the first day of the paediatric vaccine rollout in New Zealand, which is available for children aged between five and 11 years old.

But she and her children were "terrified" after some of the at least 20 protesters, many of whom were holding signs with the Voices for Freedom website on it, descended on their car.

"They were all up and down the road. Initially it was just signs and me and the kids were joking about it. Then all of a sudden they were right up in your window, holding signs up and holding things up in the window," the mum tells Newshub.

"I actually swore at them, and I said to my kids that I shouldn't have done that but I just wanted these guys to go away.

"Then one lady wouldn't move away from my car, so I actually opened my door to scare her and to get her to move away from my car. And then they kept coming up to everyone's windows, walking up and down."

The signs protesters were holding said a number of scaremongering and baseless statements, including: "Is this the future you want for your children?", "Who says COVID vax works against the virus?", "The jab puts kids at higher risk of heart damage", "Truth will prevail", and "More people die from vax injury".   

Some of the protesters outside Eventfinda Statium, and one of the people carrying a Voices for Freedom sign who descended on the Auckland mum's car.
Some of the protesters outside Eventfinda Statium, and one of the people carrying a Voices for Freedom sign who descended on the Auckland mum's car. Photo credit: Supplied

The protesters had her feeling shaken, the Auckland mum says.

"My heart is beating like I've literally been attacked. It was so terrifying."

But what was happening outside the vaccine centre was the complete opposite to what was going on inside, she adds.

"The team who were vaccinating - the doctors, the nurses, the helpers, everyone who was there - they were so kind, so compassionate, they explained it to the kids, they were so gentle," she says.

She adds that while everyone is allowed to protest and believe what they choose, she doesn't want her and her children to feel unsafe when they're getting vaccinated.

"I completely respect that there are people who question it and I respect that fact that everyone has the right to their own opinions on it, but I don't believe that they have a right to stand outside a vaccination place - especially when you've got two kids in the car who were genuinely scared," she says.

"I understand you have your opinion, but keep it to yourself, or go and have a party with your friends that all have the same opinion.

"I just want to protect my kids, that's all I want to do."

Voices for Freedom told Newshub that any such behaviour, including banging on cars and yelling, goes against their code of conduct and protocols they have for these types of events.

"Issues most often arise where people not connected with us attend the same events."

They say that the North Shore coordinator "has no recollection of any such incident taking place".

"Voices for Freedom members were in attendance at the vaccination centre today, however there were also other members of the public there as well. We appreciate that it may have been confusing to know who was who from an outsider's perspective," they say.

"Expectations for behaviour at VFF events are clearly set out in our code of conduct and include interacting with members of the public respectfully at all times. Generally, our VFF pop-up events (with signs) are silent stands with members encouraged to remain quiet, positive, and calm."

They say their nationwide groups regularly meet and attend pop-ups weekly across the country. These meetings will continue to occur at a variety of locations "for as long as required".

"We are saddened by the stifling of debate that is taking place on such an important matter.  New Zealanders deserve better.  The doctrine of 'informed consent' is one of the foundations of modern health care and is enshrined in New Zealand law."

There are over 476,300 five to 11-year-olds who are eligible for the paediatric COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine is one-third of the adult dose and is given in two doses that are eight weeks apart.