Stranger than fiction

From Thorpe Park to Primark: the strangest Covid vaccination venues

Jabs offered at theme park as part of push to encourage more young people to get inoculated

Visitors to Thorpe Park have been getting Covid-19 jabs while they queue for rides or enjoy a bite to eat, as the theme park joins a growing list of unlikely vaccination venues. 

A newly launched pop-up clinic at the Surrey attraction is offering Pfizer jabs to anyone who has not yet been vaccinated against the coronavirus or who is eligible for a second dose.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has described the initiative as a “fantastic opportunity for young people and families to get a vaccine while they enjoy a day out”, the BBC reports. 

Here are some of the other surprising places hosting pop-up clinics as part of the government’s inoculation campaign.

Primark, Bristol

Primark stores are usually the site of “queues of people desperate to get their hands on the latest fashion bargains”, according to Bristol Live. But the outlet at the city’s Broadmead Shopping Centre recently saw “queues of a different kind - of people queuing up to get their Covid jab”, as the new site reported at the time. 

Eight fitting rooms were transformed into vaccination pods over the weekend starting 17 July, with hundreds of people receiving a first Pfizer dose there.

“It was really easy - having the clinic in Primark was a great idea,” said shopper Andrea Maria Brighenti.

Tate Modern, London

“Londoners struggling to choose between an injection of culture and messenger RNA” were able to opt for both on 16 July, when Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall was transformed into a walk-in clinic, said The Art Newspaper.

Visitors to the clinic enjoyed free refreshments while listening to music from a DJ while they waited. And after getting jabbed, they were able to visit the exhibitions “featuring Vax-tract Expressionists such as Jab-son Pollock and UK favourites like Corona-elia Parker”, the paper added.

The Open, Kent

A total of 1,635 people “took the opportunity to #GrabAJab” at a pop-up clinic set up during The Open at Royal St George’s in Sandwich, reported Kent Online. Spectators and workers at the golf championship were able to have either their first or second dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines.

“We were expecting about 50 a day, so to have 1,635 come along to grab a jab is astounding and far exceeded our expectations,” said Dr Ash Peshen, GP lead for Thanet Saga Vaccination Team.

Latitude Festival, Suffolk

The 40,000-odd partygoers who flocked to the festival in Suffolk’s Henham Park last weekend were offered not only a packed line-up of music acts but also the opportunity to get a first or second dose of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines at an on-site walk-in centre. 

“While the event's famous pink sheep or the sheer amount of glittery outfits might seem strange to some, it's the pop-up vaccination centre that stands out as unusual on-site,” Sky News reported at the time. 

Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire

As “one of the country’s oldest gothic cathedrals and home to the Magna Carta”, Salisbury Cathedral is “one of the most magnificent vaccination centres in the country”, said Tatler

Covid vaccines have been offered at the cathedral since January, with organist John Challenger helping to ease people’s pre-jab jitters with the sounds of symphonies by Bach and Handel.

Lord’s Cricket Ground, London

The “hallowed ‘home’ of cricket has been the scene of infamous test matches between England and visiting national teams”, said the Financial Times. But earlier this year, the venue “pivoted its efforts into opening a vaccination centre for the local residents of St John’s Wood”, with the aim of “knocking Covid for six”. 

The paper reported in May that more than 10,000 jabs had already been administered at Lord’s. 

Sefton Park, Liverpool

The park famously frequented by John Lennon and his family has held two mass vaccination events this month, offering both first and second doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine. 

“Infection rates amongst our 18 to 24s are now some of the highest in the city and we need our young people to help with the fight against Covid-19,” Councillor Frazer Lake, cabinet member for social care and health, told the Liverpool Echo when the second park pop-up was announced. 

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