Shots of a different kind were on display at London’s Emirates Stadium on Friday (June 25) as the home of Arsenal football club was transformed into a pop-up vaccination centre.
A long queue snaked around the ground after local authority Islington Council and NHS called up eligible over-18s for a first jab of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
No appointments, registration with a doctor or questions about immigration status were
required — with the added incentives of a free stadium tour and the screening of matches
from the Euro 2020 football tournament.
Around 10,000 vaccinations are to be administered over four days as the UK government
pursues its goal of offering a dose to all adults by mid-July.
“I’ve wanted to take it for a long time — it’s exciting! It’s important for young people, we get around a lot,” said French university student Oceane Danezan, 20.
Support worker Josephine Marino, 53, said getting vaccinated was a “moral duty” as she
works with vulnerable people and intends to visit family in Italy.
“It’s good to do pop-up to cover a wide variety of people. We have a duty and people are
scared,” she told AFP.
Other major sports venues such as Twickenham rugby ground and the Tottenham Hotspur
Stadium — home to The Gunners’ bitter north London rivals — have been converted into
Almost 83 percent of Britain’s adult population have now received a first dose of a vaccine,
according to the government.
But a recent spike in infections driven by the Delta variant first identified in India has raised
concerns about a third wave affecting the unvaccinated young and vaccine-hesitant people
from some minority ethnic groups.
“I work with people in retail and there’s lots of scepticism but I try to be rational. There are
overwhelming benefits and minimal risk,” said university graduate student Sofia Mohamed,
Another student, Conor Reynolds, 26, overcame opposition from family and friends and
personal fears after a previous Pfizer medication hospitalised him before arriving at the
“I’ve been paranoid, it’s been difficult,” he admitted. “But it’s a different situation, so that
made my mind up — I just want to see my sister again.”
In the past week, the UK recorded 35,204 new cases of the more infectious Delta variant,
which makes up approximately 95 per cent of sequenced cases in the country.
The surge in infections prompted prime minister Boris Johnson to delay lifting all remaining
lockdown restrictions in England from June 21 to July 19.