March 2, 2021

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In Pictures: Vaccinations roll out in stadiums, cathedrals, buses

Sports stadiums, cathedrals and theme parks the world over have been rapidly repurposed as temporary vaccination centres in a global drive to administer the life-saving jabs.

Hallowed sports grounds such as Wembley Stadium, Lord’s cricket ground and Bath racecourse are among numerous sports venues opened for vaccines in the United Kingdom, one of the quickest countries to roll out vaccinations.

Signs at Lord’s iron gates showed a cricketer whacking not a ball but a spiky red COVID-19 virus, with the legend: “Aiming to knock COVID for 6.”

“It’s such an iconic place,” said one recipient, Gerardine Heneghan, 71. “And all those amazing cricketers … love it!”

“I thought it might be at my GP surgery which is literally down the road,” said another, Richard Bettinson, 67. “But to come here is really good.”

In Salisbury Cathedral, health workers primed their syringes in front of gold-painted altarpieces and vaccination tables were spaced among the soaring stone columns as jovial organ music filled the air.

“The cathedral, for 800 years, has stood here for two reasons. One is to give glory to God; the other is to serve God’s people,” said the dean of the cathedral, Nick Papadopulos.

“Right now, this is the most effective way we can do both those things.”

In a wood-panelled room in the Vatican, residents of a papal homeless shelter sat in a reclining chair as a vaccine-giver in pure white scrubs and visor inoculated them.

For some of those who cannot easily go to get their jabs, the vaccines come to them instead.

In eastern France, the church bells chimed in Mery-Premecy as the “Vacci’bus” pulled into the village. Elderly local people stepped on board and sat down to receive their jabs from members of the local rescue service.

“For people of a certain age who are in remote villages and cannot move around easily, this bus is a real godsend for them,” said one vaccinator on board, Jeremy Miclo.

One of the countries hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Brazil, used its most famous landmark to celebrate the launch of vaccinations using the Chinese-made Coronavac jab.

Recipients took the needle under the shadow of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue high on a hill overlooking the city.

One of the first, Dulcineia da Silva, 59, opened her arms wide like the iconic statue as she faced the cameras, her vaccination certificate in one hand.

Syrian refugee Fatima Ali received her vaccine sitting in the minibus that brought her to the clinic in Mafraq, Jordan. She fled the ongoing war in her country seven years ago with her husband and six children, finding shelter in a refugee camp near Mafraq.

“I am so happy that I got vaccinated,” she said, dressed in a black face mask and headscarf.

“May God bless them all and end this pandemic, so we can go back to our country and see our children.”

After 10 months shut down by the pandemic, the Disneyland theme park in palm-lined California came back to life as a vaccination centre, aiming to give 7,000 shots a day.

Mitra Fard, pushing her newly vaccinated 83-year-old mother in a wheelchair back from the white vaccination tents, said there had been a “long line” and an extra hour’s delay.

“But for the number of people, the number of cars, they’re doing a great job.”