Heinz Field, Morumbi and Riverside take on vaccination roles

Heinz Field, Estádio do Morumbi and the Riverside Stadium have become the latest sports venues to be utilised as COVID-19 vaccination centres during the global pandemic.

NFL American football team the Pittsburgh Steelers have teamed up with the pharmacies arm of supermarket chain Giant Eagle to run the vaccination centre at Heinz Field (pictured). Vaccinations commenced yesterday (Tuesday) and are initially due to run for the rest of this week.

“They (Giant Eagle) need a large venue,” said Steelers president Art Rooney II. “They’re going to try to vaccinate thousands of people over the course of a week, and so they need a large venue to accomplish that. Obviously, ample parking is available (around Heinz Field) at this time of the year, so it really is a perfect fit for Heinz Field and Giant Eagle at this point.”

Vaccinations are being administered in the stadium’s PNC Champions Club. Commenting on how long the site is likely to be used, Rooney said: “It all depends on the supply (of the vaccine) to Giant Eagle. I think it’s going to go on for weeks.

“That’s what they have in mind here, but all we’ve been told so far is next week Heinz Field will be scheduled for the whole week and then we expect there will be additional weeks, but we don’t have those specifics yet.”

The NFL last month offered the use of its 30 stadiums as COVID-19 vaccination centres following the conclusion of the season.

In Brazil, Estádio do Morumbi, the home of Campeonato Brasileiro Série A football club São Paulo, has been added to the city’s vaccination effort. The stadium’s vaccination centre opened yesterday, administering jabs to people aged 80 and over on a drive-thru basis.

São Paulo president, Julio Casares, said: “It was great to see Morumbi as part of that moment of joy for everyone who took the vaccine. I talked to some people and saw the hope of better days. Our home is still available so that the authorities of the Government of São Paulo and the City Hall can serve more and more people during the vaccination period.”

The centre will operate from 8am to 5pm on days when there is no football match at the stadium. The Morumbi becomes the fourth of São Paulo’s main stadia being utilised for the effort, joining Arena Neo Química, Estádio do Pacaembu and Allianz Parque.

In England, the Riverside Stadium, home of Championship football club Middlesbrough, will host a vaccination centre. Set to commence operations in mid-March, the centre will be the first of its kind in the Teesside region.

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald told the Northern Echo newspaper: “The news that the Riverside Stadium will be the venue for Middlesbrough’s mass vaccination centre is wonderful news.

“I have been calling for Middlesbrough to have such a facility in order for more people to be able to have access to a vaccine site locally. This will help support GPS across the town, particularly as supplies increase and more people receive their second jab.”

Image: Steven W. Adams/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size