Leading sports stadia join COVID-19 vaccination effort

Arrowhead Stadium, Edgbaston, Orange Vélodrome and Reale Arena have become the latest major sports stadia to be employed as COVID-19 vaccination centres.

During yesterday’s (Thursday’s) briefing at the State Capitol, Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced that the state will host a Mega Vaccination Site at Arrowhead Stadium (pictured) in Kansas City, initially on March 19-20.

The home of the Kansas City Chiefs will become the latest NFL American football stadium deployed for this purpose after the League last month offered the use of its 30 stadiums as COVID-19 vaccination centres following the conclusion of the season. The Pittsburgh Steelers this month teamed up with the pharmacies arm of supermarket chain Giant Eagle to run a vaccination centre at Heinz Field.

The Mega Vaccination Site at Arrowhead Stadium is expected to operate from 9:00am to 7:00pm on Friday and Saturday of next week. Approximately 6,000 doses of the Janssen vaccine have been reserved to fully vaccinate 3,000 Missourians each day of the event. If the state receives additional shipments of the Janssen vaccine, more doses could be allocated to the event.

Jackson County Executive, Frank White, Jr., said: “Easily accessible events with a substantial number of vaccines are essential to the safety of our residents who need and deserve it. This is especially true for our communities of colour who have been devastated by this dangerous and deadly disease. I look forward to working with the Governor and his team to provide many more opportunities like this in the near future.”

In England, Edgbaston Stadium will be utilised as an NHS COVID-19 vaccination centre from Monday. The facility will be located in the Exhibition Hall of the home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club in Birmingham.

Having previously accommodated an NHS drive-through testing centre on its car park and delivered a food bank and a Christmas toy appeal from within the stadium, the vaccination centre at Edgbaston will be operated wholly by the NHS with the treatments administered to those who have been contacted direct and have subsequently booked an appointment.

Stuart Cain, Warwickshire chief executive, said: “As a venue and major business operating within the West Midlands, we’re committed to playing our part and to supporting the great work of the national vaccination programme and in helping the country fight back against COVID.

“Given the success of the vaccination programme to date, we’re very excited at the prospect of welcoming back crowds to Edgbaston in the coming weeks. To protect the health and safety of everyone, we recommend that everyone who is offered a vaccination that they take it at the first possible opportunity.”

In France, Ligue 1 football club Olympique de Marseille’s Orange Vélodrome will host a vaccination centre from next week, the Regional Health Agency (ARS) has announced.

A precise opening date has not been disclosed, but the announcement comes after Marseille’s Mayor, Benoît Payan, last month said the stadium would be made available to speed up the vaccination programme in the region.

Bouches-du-Rhône is currently one of 23 departments of France placed under reinforced surveillance measures due to the circulation of COVID-19. The Vélodrome was last month named as one of the key venues for France’s staging of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Elsewhere in Europe, Reale Arena, the home of Spanish LaLiga football club Real Sociedad, will be utilised for a vaccination centre.

According to the El Correo newspaper, the service will start on Monday. It will focus on vaccinating both users and workers of social care services run by the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council.

Image: Kj1595/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size