Girl left in wheelchair by Covid called 'lab rat' by anti-vaxxers at jab centre

By Ryan Merrifield

A teenage girl who was left in a wheelchair after contracting Covid was called a "lab rat" by anti-vaxxers for getting a vaccine.

Grace Baker-Earle developed chronic fatigue syndrome (ME) after her battle with the virus before being mobbed by more than a dozen protestors outside Cardiff's Bayside mass vaccination centre.

The 15-year-old's mum Angela was putting her wheelchair in the car when the group approached and made for an "incredibly unpleasant" situation.

"I said my daughter is using a wheelchair because of Covid," explained Angela, 44, from Cowbridge, in the Vale Glamorgan, Wales.

"A protestor said: 'She'll have immunity, you shouldn't be getting the vaccine since you have natural immunity. You shouldn't be using her as a lab rat.'"

Grace Baker-Earle was approached by a group of anti-vaxxers outside a vaccination clinic (BBC)

Grace - who fell ill with pneumonia last November before contracting coronavirus earlier this year and then developing Myalgic Encephalomyelitis - was left feeling "intimidated" and "sad" by the unruly mob.

ME is a long-term illness with a wide range of symptoms, the most common of which is extreme tiredness.

The protesters were eventually ushered away by a steward from the centre, who then checked the mum and daughter were okay, reports the BBC.

The mum and daughter were confronted by 15 anti-vaxx protesters outside Cardiff's Bayside mass vaccination centre (BBC)

Grace said: "I think I was sad more than anything because it's something I still live with, it takes up every second of my day."

She added that she had been looking forward to getting the jab.

South Wales Police have confirmed a 61-year-old man from Newport, South Wales, has been arrested in connection with the incident.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, meanwhile, condemned the group.

Angela tried to explain her daughter was in the wheelchair because of Covid (BBC)

"People are entitled to protest, people are entitled to express their view. They're not entitled to do it in a way that intimidates others," he said.

"When you're talking about harassment, it's not what the person who is making the protests thinks about it, it's the impact that has on the individual.. Very clearly in this case, that young woman felt intimidated."

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said: "I'm very angry about the attitude of these particular protesters, because what they're protesting about is crazy nonsense.

"It could put some people off being vaccinated and clearly it's unacceptable in the sort of example that's mentioned.

"It's a difficult balance because it's a matter for the whole of society.

"Why is it that we have this group of individuals who are completely ignoring the evidence about vaccination? But the responsibility of the police is to keep that balance right."

NHS Wales began offering the vaccine to those aged 12 to 15 on October 4.

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