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The Australian government is going to seize 24,000 children and place them in a stadium quarantine camp to be forcibly vaccinated.

Several articles misconstrued an announcement made by public health officials in the state of New South Wales, earlier in August 2021.

A website called Newsfinale.com posted an article on August 18 claiming that "The Australian government is going to seize 24,000 children from its citizens and place them in a stadium quarantine camp to be forcibly vaccinated. Parents will not be allowed to attend." The article cites the Daily Expose, a U.K.-based website that spreads misinformation and disinformation about the coronavirus and its vaccines. Several other unreliable sources such as the Red State and National File also published similar stories.

The claim that the government is going to seize children and forcefully vaccinated them is entirely false. The article misconstrues an announcement made by public health officials in the state of New South Wales earlier in August 2021.

The government had announced that along with adults, high school students aged between 16 and 18 would soon be invited to get their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Qudos Arena in Sydney. This announcement was made on August 6 at the COVID-19 briefing. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian invited students aged between 16 and 18 years to register for the vaccine, and only the students registered to be vaccinated would be permitted to enter.

This decision was made in the backdrop of the upcoming Higher School Certificate (HSC) exams in October, and Snopes noted that "the state urged that cohort of students to get vaccinated to facilitate the smooth running of the exams, and prevent further outbreaks."

During the same COVID-19 briefing, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard characterized the week-long stadium vaccination program as a “golden opportunity” and said, "I want to stress that, to the mums and dads, your children will be well looked after inside. When they arrive, they’ll be literally ushered. We’ll have nurses; we’ll have some of the Youth Command, we’ll have some of the young police from the various operations within police there, just to guide them through as to where they go. They’ll be looked after every moment inside the stadium, and they’ll be well cared for. So, mums and dads, feel secure. We’ve got about 24,000 students we’re aiming to get through next week. The messages will come out this week, and the opportunity is there, but really you’ve got to take it. Grasp it with both hands."

This statement made by Hazzard was taken out of context and was posted online by several people claiming that children were going to be forcibly mass vaccinated. Children were not seized but were invited to come and get vaccinated at the stadium. Furthermore, they did not make this drive mandatory, and it was on children [and their parents] if they wanted to register for it. The vaccination drive in question has already taken place, and "there were no reports of mass kidnapping, and no images of armed police officers dragging students to get vaccinated against their will," as reported by Snopes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.

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