Jabs on the line-up at Reading and Leeds music festivals
By Aine Fox, PA
Revellers will be able to get a coronavirus vaccine as they soak up the atmosphere at the Reading and Leeds festival this weekend.
It comes as NHS England said more than half a million 16 and 17-year-olds have had their first dose.
The pop-up clinics across the two sites this bank holiday weekend mean music lovers will be able to grab a jab as easily as a beer or a burger, health officials said, but they added that people under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be given the vaccine.
Some music festivals have hit the headlines recently after Covid-19 cases were linked to attendees.
Health officials said they are investigating 4,700 cases of coronavirus which are suspected to be linked to the Boardmasters festival, which took place in Cornwall nearly two weeks ago.
Elsewhere it has been reported that more than 1,000 people who attended Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Suffolk last month have tested positive for the virus.
The jab offer at Reading and Leeds follows other major efforts to get more young people vaccinated, with jabs available at nightclubs, football stadiums and the circus.
Earlier this week a new NHS video featuring three previously healthy people in their early 20s and 30s was released in an effort to show the debilitating effects of long Covid.
People aged 18 to 34 make up more than one in five of those admitted to hospital with the virus, which is four times higher than the peak in winter 2020, the NHS has said.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid insisted getting a jab is “one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones”.
He 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 easier than ever to get your jab.”
Dr Nikki Kanani, a 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.”
Jabs will be on offer at the Reading site between 9.30am and 5pm from Thursday until Sunday, and from 9am to 1pm on Monday.
There will also be a two-hour slot for festival staff on Wednesday lunchtime and jabs for early arrivals in the afternoon.
At the Leeds site, vaccines will be offered from 10am until 4pm from Friday to Sunday, and from 8am until 11am on Monday.
Health professionals will also be available at the Leeds clinic on Thursday between 10am and 4pm for festival goers who want to discuss the jab.