Twickenham Stadium has hosted a major vaccination drive today, with up to 15,000 first dose jabs being made available to those living in the area.
The event, named Let’s Tackle Covid, was devised as a means to increase the number of local vaccinations amid a spike in the number of cases in Hounslow of the Covid-19 variant first identified in India.
In an update on Monday afternoon (May 31), organisers said that anyone over 18 would be able to get an injection as they did not want any of the vaccine to be wasted.
Scotland international rugby union player Rory Hutchinson was among those who got a vaccination at Twickenham Stadium.
The 25-year-old Northampton Saints player said: “For me it is the right thing to do and that is why I am here today”.
He said: “It was a really smooth process. I thought they were very professional. It was easy to find. I walked straight in and got my vaccine done. Then just had to wait a short while to make sure I was OK.
“I think we have been through a really tough time recently and hopefully we are on the mend now. I am just doing what I can to support that.”
Dr Genevieve Small, who is a Harrow GP and the clinical lead for the north west London vaccination programme, described the Twickenham event which had been organised in a short space of time as a service which had been “something quite powerful” for a range of people.
She said: “We have been able to provide this facility on the day for people who perhaps knew they were allowed to get the vaccine but had not come around to sorting it out, or who have just been more spontaneous, or who had previously questions about the programme and now feel ready to come forward for the vaccination.
“There is, of course, a want (or a need) to make sure we are protecting the areas that are seeing more cases of the new variant.
“We have been given the opportunity (to do this). We have been given the vaccine and we have gone for it.”
Over 100 vaccinators, which includes a mixture of GPs and nurses, were on duty to hand out the jabs.
Thousands of people had queued up around the rugby pitch as the doors opened in order to make their way into the stadium concourse which had been turned into a vaccination hub.
Twickenham Stadium venue director Mark Lynch said: “We are proud to have supported the NHS for over a year during the pandemic, first with a test centre in Twickenham Stadium car park and now to set up this mass vaccination facility in record time.
“It’s taken less than a week to turn around and I’d like to thank all 600 stadium and NHS employees involved for their hard work to make this happen.
“Like rugby clubs across the country, we feel it’s important for us to do our bit to support our local communities.”
The event has been organised by the local NHS trust in partnership with Hounslow Council and supported by England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU).