ANTI-vax campaigners were involved in heated confrontations with health staff as part of a bid to derail Bolton's successful immunisation drive.

Police community support officers were drafted in to keep the peace after one anti-vax protester started filming people who had just had the jab and were sitting in the recovery tent in Victoria Square on Saturday.

Council chiefs in Bolton have condemned the interlopers, Cllr Andy Morgan said: “It’s disgraceful, things like this just set us back.

“I believe in freedom of speech but this is not fair. If anybody has any concerns over the vaccines then they should come and speak to one of the clinicians.

“It’s completely irresponsible behaviour. I imagine these are the same people who will be complaining if we don’t ease restrictions on June 21, despite their actions contributing to it."

The protester with the video camera accused health staff and volunteers of being "complicit in genocide" as tensions mounted between the opposing parties.

One onlooker said: "Those involved were fairly obnoxious and in-your-face with the health workers. I think they did well not to react.

"The guy who was doing most of the filming wasn't quite so brave and fortright once the PCSOs arrived on the scene, funnily enough."

Protesters were handing out copies of a so-called free 'truthpaper', The Light, which is reportedly published by Greater Manchester guitar string salesman Darren Smith, and anti-vaccination leaflets.

The incident follows on from a flashpoint last month when anti-vax campaigners harangued schoolchildren outside Essa Academy about vaccinations before they were moved on.

Health chiefs have held Bolton up as an example of how surge vaccinations can bring down Covid-19 rates.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, was in town last Friday to discuss with political and health leaders how the borough has tackled the significant rate of Delta variant coronavirus cases locally.