Several people were arrested in Australia for taking part in anti-vaccination protesters ahead of the launch of the country’s coronavirus inoculation programme.
Protests were held in cities including Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, with participants chanting slogans like: “My body, my choice.”
The rallies were largely peaceful, but police made several arrests in Melbourne, local media reported.
The national rollout of the Pfizer vaccine is set to begin on Monday.
Australia’s medical regulator earlier this week also granted provisional approval for the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which is expected to be rolled out next month.
Both vaccines have undergone extensive safety checks and are already being used in several countries.
According to broadcaster ABC thousands of people attended these rallies.
Former Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans, who has been banned from Instagram and Facebook for repeatedly sharing misinformation about coronavirus, spoke at the rally in Sydney.
Protesters there held signs denouncing the vaccine rollout.
“I don’t care, you want the vaccine, take the vaccine but don’t force me to take it,” one protester said.
The jabs in Australia are free, but it is not mandatory for people to have them.
Australia aims to inoculate four million people by early March.
The priority groups in the first round include the 700,000 frontline workers in the health sector, border enforcement and care homes, along with the residents of care homes.
Australia has recorded just under 29,000 cases, and 909 deaths since the pandemic began.