Security Guards to Accompany Mobile Vaccination Units After Harassment by Anti-Vaxxers

Security guards will help protect workers at three mobile COVID vaccination units in Colorado's Jefferson County following an extended period of harassment and vandalism. The arrangement will remain in place for the foreseeable future so that the county can continue hold vaccination events, according to The Gazette, a local publication.

The county's public health agency was forced to pull back the three mobile units after a driver in nearby Gilpin County, where one of the units was contracted to work, approached the van and destroyed pieces of signage. According to Dr. Dawn Comstock, executive director for the agency, staff members had also been verbally harassed by members of the public on September 4.

The incidents were the culmination of months of similar harassment and abuse leveled against the units. In a particularly severe example, somebody throw lit fireworks into one of the tents a unit was working out of. All such incidents were reported to the local police, but the suspects had fled the scene before they could be taken into custody.

mobile vaccination units security
Mobile COVID vaccination units in Colorado will have security guards following long-running harassment. In this photo, a health-care worker administers a COVID vaccine to a homeless woman at a vaccination mobile unit in Miami on May 13. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

The agency "will not be intimidated out of its public health mission," Comstock said in a statement. "We've arranged additional security measures to keep staff safe and will be working with our law enforcement partners to assure these handful of extremists are not allowed to infringe on the rights of those who want to be vaccinated."

Comstock explained to The Gazette that the health agency has been in discussion with the sheriff's office and other local law enforcement agencies about whether they would be needed in addition to the new security. She also reached out to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment about receiving funding for security measures, but was told the department was already working with law enforcement across the state to combat the issue.

"They let us know this isn't just a Jefferson County problem and they are working with state law enforcement officials on how to address this problem," Comstock explained.

Newsweek has reached out to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a comment on this story.

Colorado is a little ahead of the average vaccination rates for adults in the U.S., with about 76% of people 18 and older having received one shot and nearly 69% being fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times. The national average for adults is currently 75% with one shot and 65% fully vaccinated.

Colorado has recently begun recruiting influencers and others with considerable social media followings to help spread the word about vaccinations. Denver has stated that it will hold emergency services workers, including police and firefighters, accountable if they refuse to follow the city's vaccine mandate.