COVID jabs will be on the bill as the NHS vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in health service history, sets up camp at Reading and Leeds festivals this weekend.
The Bank Holiday initiative means music fans at the split site event will be able to pick up a jab as easily as a beer or a burger.
It comes as new figures show more than half a million 16 and 17 year olds in England have now had their jab.
Fans pitching up to see headliners Stormzy, Post Malone and Liam Gallagher can watch their favourite acts then rock up to get their jab at pop-up clinics on site available throughout the weekend including a vaccine bus at Reading.
The country’s top GP, Dr Nikki Kanani, urged the hundreds of thousands music fans attending the events to protect themselves and others by adding the ‘vaccine tent’ to their festival itinerary if they have not already been jabbed.
Both sites will offer the opportunity to speak to health professionals who will be able to answer any questions or concerns. Anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be given the vaccine.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy Lead for NHS England’s vaccination programme, said: “Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff and volunteers more than half a million young people aged 16 and 17 have had their first dose as teams across the country have worked tirelessly to get their communities protected, vaccinating at convenient pop up clinics in the park, at places of worship and stadiums and now at Reading and Leeds.
“It is great to see the return of live music and performances, and as festival goers head to the main stage this weekend to see their favourite headliners, I am also urging anyone who hasn’t to add the ‘vaccine tent’ to their festival itinerary to get that lifesaving vaccine as the best protection we can get from coronavirus.”
The festival is the latest in the line-up of hundreds of walk-in sites across the country to offer the lifesaving COVID vaccine as part of the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in health history.
Last week, the NHS sent more than one million texts to newly eligible people aged 16 and 17 inviting them to grab a jab at their nearest walk in centre via the NHS online walk-in finder, following independent guidance from the JCVI being updated at the start of August to include this age group.
Since the NHS administered the world first vaccine to Margaret Keenan in December, NHS staff have delivered more than 75 million vaccinations, including to half a million 16 and 17 year olds with almost four in five adults now double vaccinated.
The Reading vaccination clinic will also have a bus and will be open 9:30am – 5.00pm from the Thursday through to Monday, with a dedicated two-hour slot for festival staff on Wednesday lunchtime and jabs for early arrivals in the afternoon. The team will be located close to the yellow gate entrance.
The Leeds clinic will be open on the Thursday from 10.00am to 4.00pm for festival goers to talk to health professionals about the vaccination. The site will be offering jabs from 10.00am – 4.00pm from Friday through to Sunday, and from 8.00am – 11.00am on Monday morning. The team will be located next to the first aid and welfare tents just across from the blue camping area.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Vaccines are saving lives and allowing us to regain the freedoms we’ve been looking forward to over the last 18 months – from visiting family abroad to festivals and gigs.
“It’s brilliant to see different sectors and industries stepping up to help get the country vaccinated, making it’s easier than ever to get your jab.
“Having a vaccine is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones and help us to get back to normal so we can carry on doing the things we enjoy.”
Elsewhere in the country at over 2,000 sites, beachfronts, parks and football stadiums have transformed into vaccination centres as NHS staff and volunteers pull out all the stops to make it as easy as possible to get vaccinated.
Anyone aged 16 and 17 can now find their nearest centre through the ‘grab a jab’ NHS online walk-in finder, with more sites becoming available every day.
The National Booking Service (NBS) is currently open to anyone aged 18 or over, and to people within three months of their 18th birthday.