Carson and Champion join sports figures in urging over-70s to get Covid-19 vaccine

Willie Carson and Bob Champion have put their weight behind the push to encourage people aged 70 and over to receive their coronavirus vaccination.

Five-time champion Flat jockey Carson, 78, and 72-year-old Champion, who recovered from cancer to win the Grand National on Aldaniti in 1981, have both had their first jab from the NHS – and urge others to follow suit.

Carson said: “Four weeks ago I got one of the best phone calls I’ve received this year – the appointment for my first coronavirus vaccination at Cirencester Hospital. I encourage everyone to get it quick – make a nuisance of yourself! The jab will make you safer.”

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Carson and Champion, who will receive their second dose within 12 weeks, are in the top four priority groups that has accounted for 88 per cent of Covid deaths.

Champion said: “Last week I was very excited going to my GP surgery to receive my vaccination from the surgery nurse. It is wonderful to have thousands of doctors, nurses and volunteers helping to make us safe and hopefully get us back to some normality in the near future.”

Other sporting heroes such as 1966 World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst, former England manager Roy Hodgson, former England cricketer David Lloyd and 1969 Wimbledon women’s singles winner Ann Jones have been helping the Government to get the message across.

Lord’s Cricket Ground is just one of more than 80 elite and grassroots sport venues that have been partly converted into either a large vaccination centre or GP-led service in support of the vaccine rollout – with a number of racecourses, including Newbury and Epsom, playing their part.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks to the media during a visit to the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up in the grounds of Epsom
Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaks to the media during a visit to the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up in the grounds of Epsom (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Sports have played a magnificent role in helping us fight this virus, from hosting test centres, to providing food to frontline workers, to calling older fans at risk of loneliness.

“And now venues such as Lord’s are helping deliver the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in Britain’s history.

“Our elderly have shown us the way by enthusiastically rolling up their sleeves, so let’s keep this going. I urge any over 70s to join our sports legends and contact the NHS if they haven’t had the vaccine yet.

“The vaccine will save lives, livelihoods and get us back to the things we love.”

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