The popular beauty spot town that’s become a haven for anti-vaxxers

Hebden Bridge has long been a popular spot for Greater Manchester residents looking for a day out.

Just a 20 minute drive for many living in Rochdale and not much further from Oldham, the beautiful little market town boasts great views and a relaxed atmosphere.

But, recently the area has been embroiled in a divisive argument about the Covid vaccination.

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Earlier this month, Hebden Bridge was the centre for another anti-jab protest, YorkshireLive reports.

Local councillor, Josh Fenton-Glynn, says he witnessed a protester tell a woman coronavirus was not responsible for her mother’s death.

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Coun Fenton-Glynn said he was ‘appalled’ by the protestor’s behaviour which demonstrated how toxic the debate has become for the town.

Anti-vaccine demonstrations in the area have been met with a mix of anger, derision and some support.

But Hebden Bridge prides itself on doing things differently.

The bohemian town has long had a population unafraid to question conventional wisdom and authority.

Residents in Hebden Bridge have reported mixed opinions on the Covid vaccine
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

It could be one reason that anti-vaxxers – and those who believe the coronavirus pandemic is a government-backed conspiracy – have felt safer expressing their minority views.

Is there a greater proportion of people in Hebden Bridge who hold these views? Or is it typical for a town of its size?

To gauge the feeling YorkshireLive spoke to some of the people who live and work in the West Yorkshire town.

While some were happy to discuss their views, others were not because the issue had become so divisive.

Protesters in Hebden Bridge last year

One business owner, who was in favour of the vaccine, said: “I’m for it only because I know people who have died from it.”

But she said cautiously: “You have to be careful around here.”

The business owner added she was fed up of Covid conspiracy protestors in the town.

“It’s the way they are argumentative with people,” she said.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinions but they’ve got quite aggressive putting them across.”

It seems like Hebden Bridge’s countercultural ethos has encouraged alternative theories, some of which are very controversial, say residents.

One local, who gave the name Magdalen and supports the vaccine, said: “I think it’s the whole hippy culture thing and having those ideas of individualism.

“They don’t trust authority and want to think more critically about these things.”

She added: “I guess they believe that but it’s really irresponsible to be spreading [Covid] when there’s people dying.”

Katy, who works in a pet supplies shop, said she was going to lose her other job, in a care home, because she refused to get vaccinated.

“I don’t want the vaccine. I don’t believe in any of it at all,” she said.

Katy added she would ‘love’ to join the protestors in Hebden’s St George’s Square.

The NHS is currently encouraging people to get their Covid booster jab and flu vaccination
(Image: PA)

Vicky, 31, doesn’t want the vaccine but had a softer approach.

She said: “I know Covid is real, I just think people need to stop living in fear.

“If you want the vaccine that’s fine and if you don’t, that’s fine too.”

Vicky added she had heard of people who were previously friends but had fallen out over the coronavirus debate.

“I won’t be grabbing a placard and joining,” she said.

Butcher Daniel, 29, was unequivocal in his support for the coronavirus jab.

He said: “It’s not about yourself, you’re protecting other people as well. It’s a bit selfish towards other people.

“The scientists can’t be wrong.”

But he added: “People have their right to an opinion.”

Official government advice from various governments the world over says people should be vaccinated against Covid.

The NHS website says: “Anyone who gets COVID-19 can become seriously ill or have long-term effects ( long COVID ). The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others.”

Research has shown the vaccines help:

  • reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19
  • protect against COVID-19 variants”

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Manchester Evening News – Oldham