An exchange of attacks transpired between the authorities who fired tear gas and water cannons at thousands of protesters who opposed stringent anti-coronavirus measures in the small European Union country. Protesters retaliated by hurling bottles and other objects at riot police.
Approximately 10,000 protesters chanted “Freedom! Freedom!” as they attempted to block a main highway north of Ljubljana before police intervened, the second identical event in Slovenia in less than a month. The protest, which was largely organized by groups opposed to the use of COVID-19 vaccine passes, occurred as Slovenia suspended the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Wednesday while it investigated the death of a 20-year-old woman who had gotten the shot.
The J&J vaccination will be discontinued until scientists determine whether there was a link between the woman’s death from a stroke earlier this week and the vaccine shot she received two weeks earlier, according to Health Minister Janez Poklukar.
After Slovenian authorities implemented new conditions for the use of COVID-19 passes, including going to work in all state-run enterprises, the one-dose J&J vaccine became more popular. People must prove that they have been properly vaccinated or that they have had a costly PCR test. In response to rising demand, the government authorized the purchase of an additional 100,000 J&J dosages from Hungary. According to Poklukar, the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh the risks.
According to an official news outlet, the woman who died was the second recipient of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Slovenia to suffer from a major health problem that was not caused by COVID-19. In Slovenia, over 120,000 people have received the vaccination. Earlier in the rally, attendees observed a moment of silence to pay respect to the memory of the young woman. Protesters brandished placards that read “Stop Corona Fascism” and demanded equal rights for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Katja Zupan, a protester, claimed she was there for the future of her kids and future generations because the madness of vaccination must be stopped. If we don’t stand up for ourselves and for humanity, we’re done; we’re lost, she added. Slovenia, like most of Central and Eastern Europe, has seen an increase in new coronavirus infections in recent weeks. The country of 2 million people has vaccinated approximately 48% of its population, a lower proportion than in many other European countries.
Slovenia has endorsed Johnson & Johnson vaccines for all adults over the age of 18, but several countries have restricted their use to the elderly.