Governmental representatives recently discussed the repeated attacks by radical anti-vaxxers against healthcare workers and other vaccination advocates.
The Central Crisis Staff dealt with the issue at their session on October 6. Members of the crisis staff agreed that police will more actively cooperate with hospitals and mobile vaccination teams to ensure higher protection against verbal and physical threats from vaccination opponents.
“Healthcare staff comes into contact with people who threaten them, and that’s why is necessary to accept active measures that will prevent such incidents,” Interior Minister Roman Mikulec (OĽaNO) said after the session, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
He added that they also discussed implementing a targeted and effective communication strategy so that they are "informed about what attacks occur and what follows, what the sanctions are, and how they will be dealt with,” Mikulec said, adding that these attacks are being investigated.
The police will collaborate with the Health Ministry and ask for the cooperation of the Armed Forces, Financial Administration, and Prison and Court Guard Service.
Health Minister Vladimír Lengvarský appreciates that the ministry is clearly expressing its support for healthcare workers.
“We value the work of our healthcare workers and the Health Ministry very clearly communicates that we will protect our healthcare workers and take all the necessary steps so they can conduct their work peacefully. This will contribute to the protection of our public health and healthcare workers,” Minister Lengvarský said, as quoted by TASR.
Attacks aimed at family members
Vladimír Krčméry, an expert of tropical medicine and infectology who became the face of Slovakia's vaccination campaign, said that he has been targeted by radical anti-vaxxers.
“As we have such experience, for example, from Haiti, when people were shooting at us, we could deal with that, but it was not fair that these attacks were also aimed against members of our families,” Krčméry told TASR.
He opined that with the current third wave rising in Slovakia, the number and intensity of attacks against healthcare workers will decrease.
The police will protect not only healthcare workers and hygienists but also their relatives, according to Mikulec.
“Even today, at the meeting, we communicated that anyone who feels endangered by threats should let the police know,” he said.
The Justice Ministry will also deal with an amendment to the Criminal Code. Mikulec says efforts have been made to create legislative instruments that should tighten the procedure against those who spread hoaxes on social networks that increase animosity and hostility towards health professionals.