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Ashton Gate among seven UK mass vaccination hubs

Bristol’s Ashton Gate stadium has been named by the UK government as one of seven “super-vaccination” centres and will open its doors to the public in the coming days.

Ashton Gate will join London’s ExCel Centre, Manchester Tennis & Football Centre, Robertson House Stevenage, Surrey’s Epsom Downs Racecourse, Millenium Point in Birmingham and Newcastle’s Centre for Life as large-scale vaccination centres.

The centres will be staffed by a mixture of NHS staff and volunteers and will open alongside 775 GP-led centres and 207 hospital sites.

Vaccinations will only be issued to people who have received their NHS vaccination invite and the centres will be operating strictly by appointment only. Ashton Gate, home of Championship football club Bristol City and Premiership rugby club Bristol Bears, will continue to host matches as normal.

Mark Kelly, managing director at Ashton Gate, said: “Ashton Gate is proud to support the delivery of this vaccination programme. The stadium sits in the heart of the community and to be able to help in whatever way we can is a real honour.

“We have previously partnered with the NHS for COVID testing here at the stadium and it is perfectly set up to be able to help the NHS with this incredibly important programme. The NHS is leading the programme and they will be managing the distribution of the vaccine, starting with priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

“The vaccination centre has taken over the South Concourse of the stadium and it is a self-contained space with plenty of room for social distancing, enabling a safe and efficient delivery of the vaccine, including one-way systems.”

Dr Tim Whittlestone, clinical lead for the NHS vaccination programme in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, added: “The new AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine coming onstream, alongside the increased capacity at Ashton Gate, should allow us to move through the prioritisation categories at pace. It’s a really exciting development, but it will still take time to reach everyone who needs to be vaccinated.”

It has also been reported that Premier League clubs Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have offered up their stadiums as vaccination centres. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was used as a testing centre at the start of the pandemic, while Liverpool’s Anfield stadium has provided a similar service in recent months.

According to Sky Sports, Aston Villa’s stadium is also being considered as a vaccination centre, while fellow Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion is said to be willing to help in the effort.

In the US, Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins NFL team, will become a vaccination centre and there are also talks for the city’s Marlins Park baseball stadium to follow suit.

Image: Ashton Gate