COVID-19: 'Olympic effort' under way as stadiums become pop-up vaccination centres

·3-min read

Stadiums and football grounds across London have been transformed into vaccination centres in a push to vaccinate as many people as possible against the coronavirus.

This is the first weekend since all adults became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, after the programme was opened up to those aged 18 to 20 on Friday.

Sky correspondent Laura Bundock was at what was the Olympic Stadium in east London, the home of West Ham United, where she said 15,000 vaccinations were available.

"This was the home of the 2012 Games and certainly there's an Olympic effort under way here today," she said, adding that "hundreds and hundreds" of people were lined up, with the queue snaking all the way around the building.

"One teenager, 18-year-old Matthew, told me his mum woke him up to tell him the news and made him go on and book an appointment.

"Another told me he's due to start university in September and he really hopes this might mean a slightly more normal return to university, to get back on the campus and carry on student life."

Dr Jagan John, chairman of North East London CCG, described the turnout as "fantastic", adding that 10,000 vaccinations had already been booked at the stadium for the day.

Dr John said that pop-up vaccination centres were "crucial" in reaching as many people as possible with the vaccine.

He said: "The average age [in the borough of Newham] is around 30 so... the more we can do to make it convenient and offer choices to our public and residents, then I think that is the right way to go ahead."

Other stadiums and football grounds in London being used as vaccination centres this weekend include Chelsea's ground at Stamford Bridge, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Charlton Athletic FC, Selhurst Park and Crystal Palace Athletics Centre.

At Stamford Bridge, there were 6,000 Pfizer vaccine doses available to those over the age of 18 who are eligible for their first or second dose.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was there and said: "You do not need to be registered with a GP to get vaccinated.

"It is great news that more than eight million doses of the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine have been given to Londoners, and now all adults over the age of 18 are able to get the jab.

"We are seeing the big difference that the vaccine is making in our fight against the virus, so I strongly urge all adult Londoners to book their appointments or attend a walk-in centre as soon as possible, and to ensure you get your second dose."

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi tweeted: "This is an incredible effort by the whole London team. Happening across the City at Spurs, Arsenal, Charlton and West Ham too. Come on London let's get vaccinated."

The government wants to offer every adult at least a first vaccine dose by 19 July for the best protection possible against the Delta variant, which was first reported in India.

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