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Carolina Panthers' Stadium Used As Mass Vaccination Clinic

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Stadiums and sports venues, underused during the pandemic, have a new purpose now. Some are mass vaccination sites. Nick de la Canal from member station WFAE reports from the home of the Carolina Panthers, Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

UNIDENTIFIED VOLUNTEER: All right, folks. Step on into the white tent, and have some fun.

NICK DE LA CANAL, BYLINE: It was close to a game-day atmosphere outside Charlotte's Bank of America football stadium this weekend. Volunteers in neon vests were directing traffic as groups of pedestrians flowed toward the stadium, all bundled up in coats and ponchos to brave the cold, wet weather. There were older men wearing veterans caps, some women dressed in saris and elderly parents in wheelchairs pushed by their children. The crowds weren't here to watch a game but rather to get their first dose of the Moderna vaccine. Among them was 69-year-old Mary Anne Logan. She says some of her friends have doubts about getting vaccinated.

MARY ANNE LOGAN: I'm excited, but a little bit scared.

DE LA CANAL: Yeah?

LOGAN: Yeah.

DE LA CANAL: Why scared?

LOGAN: Because of everybody talking about, you know, not going to take it - all that. But, you know, just had to put that aside and think about myself and other people.

DE LA CANAL: She works as a local childcare teacher, and she says she's grateful to be one of 19,000 health care workers and people 65 and older who snagged appointments for the Friday through Sunday event.

FRED GRIFFIE: I'm 110 (laughter).

DE LA CANAL: Fred Griffie doesn't look it, though. Well, he's just kidding. He's actually 82, and he was impressed with the vaccination effort.

GRIFFIE: And they have it down pretty good once you get inside, and they need a big space. I understand there were going to be 19,000 over the three-day period. You can't do it in a high school gym.

DE LA CANAL: The stadium in Uptown Charlotte is just one of several sports venues to double as vaccination clinics in recent weeks. They also include Charlotte Motor Speedway and stadiums in Los Angeles, Miami and elsewhere. Some were being used for COVID-19 testing before that. Dr. David Callaway with the Atrium Health hospital system says many of these sports venues have infrastructure ideal for hosting these mass vaccination events.

DAVID CALLAWAY: You want to move 10,000 people through a space, you know, an NFL stadium is a great place. They put 60 to 80,000 people through it on any given Sunday.

DE LA CANAL: His hospital system sponsored the event with a coalition of local businesses. They hope to hold more of them at other venues around North Carolina in the coming weeks. And they're planning a follow-up event at this stadium four weeks from now to get people who came this weekend a second dose.

For NPR News, I'm Nick de la Canal, in Charlotte.

(SOUNDBITE OF ODDISEE'S "RIGHT SIDE OF THE BED") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.