Thursday, 17 Jun 2021

COVID-19: England’s biggest coronavirus vaccination centre in west London breaks policy to offer jab to anyone over 18 for today only

England’s biggest vaccination centre at Twickenham Stadium in west London is offering COVID jabs to anyone over the age of 18 for today only.

Thousands of people have already been given a coronavirus vaccine dose at the home of English rugby since it opened for jabs on Bank Holiday Monday, and the local NHS trust said they could now offer them to all adults.

It tweeted: “Still spaces and vaccine left: now open to all 18 and over who can get here before 7.30pm!”

Government guidelines say only people over the age of 30 are currently eligible for the jab, but medics at the stadium offered it to all adults in an effort to ensure nothing is wasted.

Up to 15,000 Pfizer vaccine doses have been made available as part of Twickenham’s “Let’s Tackle COVID” event, which has been running from 10am to 8pm.

The event was initially only offering first doses to eligible members of the public in the London boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster.

But by 2.30pm, organisers said anyone over 18 could turn up for a jab.

Several local boroughs began surge testing earlier this month after cases of the Indian variant were discovered.

Hounslow in particular had been identified as a hotspot for the new variant, which is believed to be more transmissible and could delay the 21 June reopening in England.

A spokesperson for Twickenham Stadium said they were “proud” the venue was supporting one of the “biggest walk-in vaccination events” in England.

Scotland international rugby union player Rory Hutchinson was among those who queued up for a jab, saying afterwards it was the “right thing to do”.

“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,” the 25-year-old said.

“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.”

Student Flo Flake-Parsons, 24, also turned up for a vaccine and said there were no queues by the time she got her jab in the afternoon.

“It has been a really rubbish time for everyone and this is a good step back towards normality,” she said.

Dr Genevieve Small, who is the clinical lead for the northwest London vaccination programme, said the event was 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 had 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,” she said.

“We have been given the opportunity [to do this]. We have been given the vaccine and we have gone for it.”

More than 100 vaccinators are on duty to hand out jabs and thousands have queued up around the rugby pitch.

The event was organised by the local NHS trust in partnership with Hounslow Council and supported by England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU).

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