Sunderland AFC fans kick off matchday with Covid jabs at Beacon of Light Fan Zone
Sunderland AFC fans looking to cheer on their team at the Stadium of Light have been able to receive a matchday Covid vaccine as part of a new NHS initiative.
Fans attending Saturday’s game against Wycombe had cause for a double celebration after seeing their team win while at the same time being able to receive the jab thanks to a pop-up vaccination clinic at the Beacon of Light Fan Zone.
It’s now hoped the initiative, which was particularly targeted at young people, will be repeated on future matchdays to help make the vaccine as easily accessible as possible in the fight against the Covid pandemic.
Dr Fadi Khalil, a local GP and clinical vice-chair of Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: "Football is part of Sunderland's DNA, so it made perfect sense to link up with the club and offer the jab on matchday. A home win and protection against the virus is a great way to kick off the weekend.
"We've had a great response to the vaccine uptake locally but we're always looking for new ways to help people get protected and reach out to our various communities. We're planning more clinics in different venues including freshers' week when the new university term starts.
"The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and the people you care about. Our vaccine teams have done an incredible job in helping patients get protected and more than 84 per cent of adults in Sunderland have now had at least one dose."
Both the CCG and football club hope using the power of SAFC’s brand will engage more young people to take up the opportunity to be vaccinated.
Jamie Wright, managing director of Sunderland AFC's official charity, the Foundation of Light, said: "We were delighted to welcome the NHS vaccination team to the Beacon of Light on Saturday as part of the SAFC Fan Zone.
“Our ethos is to use the power of football to inspire and connect with our local communities and hosting the clinic at the Fan Zone ahead of the match is a perfect example of that. We're looking forward to welcoming the clinic back to the Beacon soon."
Further details of vaccination clinics across the city can be found at www.sunderland.gov.uk
Future dates for matchday jabs are yet to be released.