Glasgow has suffered a particularly difficult pandemic: after enduring the harshest Covid restrictions in Scotland for the longest period of time, it is also at the top of the list of local authorities with the lowest vaccination rates.

And as the slowing pace of the vaccine rollout across the country sparks increasing concern in the run-up to Scotland’s ‘Freedom Day’ of August 9, there’s been a concentrated effort in Glasgow to convince younger adults and those living in more deprived areas in particular to get their jabs.

It is the hope of health officials that pop-up vaccination busses will do just that.

“We need to reach out and get into communities; it’s about taking care to the patients,” said Dr Barbara O’Donnell, speaking on Monday from a vaccination bus at Celtic Park.

Situated in the city’s impoverished East End and the home of Celtic Football Club, it was the hope that Monday’s pop-up clinic at Scotland’s largest football stadium would attract locals and football fans alike. Recent analysis from the Times found that one in ten Glaswegians who died from the virus lived within a three mile radius of the East End.

“It’s been an excellent day. We’ve had a steady flow of people with a variety of ages and quite a few vulnerable groups have shown up as well. I’m absolutely delighted,” said Dr O’Donnell, who is a clinical quality lead for the Scottish Ambulance Service.

For Robert Liddell, 59, it was a phobia of needles that kept him away until now.

“I have COPD myself so I do know how serious Covid is, but I’m frightened of needles and see when you’re phobic, it’s hard,” said Mr Liddell, who lives in Tollcross – around a mile east of the pop-up centre.

“I didn’t know if I’d get it right away; I thought there’d be a big queue and I was worried I’d left it too late, but it was as easy as pie. The staff reassured you, made sure you were calm and took the time to explain,” he said.

Barabara O'Donnell, Area Clinical Lead for Scottish Ambulance talking with Robert Liddell, 59, who had just had his firs vaccination at the Covid bus

Credit: Stuart Nicol 

On what finally convinced him to overcome his fear of needles and get the jag, Mr Liddell said it was concern over being unable to get into venues or see family coupled with watching the news and hearing that a vaccination bus would be near his home.

“I’d encourage everybody to get it, especially if you’re phobic like me. It’s just a wee nip,” he added.

Opening at 10am, the clinic jabbed 27 people in its first hour and around 50 by midday, with a steady stream of Scots showing up as the afternoon progressed.

“If that number doubles then it’s 100 people who otherwise wouldn’t have been jabbed, and every single person that shows up makes it worth it,” said Dr O’Donnell, who spent much of the day offering patients bottles of water and suncream from her car under an uncommon Glasgow sunshine.

“We see a high number of young people who’ve been unable to get appointments previously due to working hours, and a lot of them are anxious because their social media has scare stories on it, so we have to sit with them and talk through the benefits and try to encourage,” she added.

Dr Barabara O'Donnell, Area Clinical Lead for Scottish Ambulance who was running the clinic at the Covid bus

Credit: Stuart Nicol 

Harris Forrester, who turned 18 three weeks ago, showed up to get the jab “as soon as possible” after catching the virus last month.

“I didn’t have second thoughts about getting the jab, more like one-and-a-half thoughts. I was seeing lots of stuff on social media but never bought into it,” he said.

“I think a lot of my friends are like me: hesitant but not against it,” he added, saying it was a desire to protect his family, go on holiday and watch football that convinced him.

Harris Forrester, 18, who had Covid-19 in June

Credit: Stuart Nicol 

Almost half of men under 30 in Scottish biggest cities have failed to show up for their vaccine appointments, prompting SNP ministers to urge health boards to set up vaccine centres “where young people are”.

Daniel Durkin, 28, showed up for his first dose after being “nagged” by his girlfriend, who pointed out that it was men his age who were most reluctant to get the jab.

“I’d been working from home so wasn’t really around people, and in the camp of thinking I don’t really need it yet so I’ll let everyone else get it first.

“I eventually would have done it, but it wouldn’t have been this soon if not for the pop-up,” he said. “When it’s not a pop-up and you’re given a date two weeks in advance, you have all this time to think of reasons not to go.”

The drop-in service is offering both AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines

Credit: Stuart Nicol 

 Jon Davie, 29, receiving his vaccination 

Credit: Stuart Nicol 

For many other younger adults who arrived at Celtic Park on Monday, it wasn’t vaccine hesitancy but rather difficult working hours that had prevented them from attending an appointment sooner.

“I was really wanting to get the jab but I couldn’t because I work the night shift at a supermarket,” said Jon Davie, 29, who received his first dose of Moderna.

“All of my friends are pretty much just wanting to get the vaccine and get back to normal life,” he added.

The pop-up centres have also been particularly useful for reaching vulnerable patients who weren’t able to attend appointments elsewhere.

"We had a woman in her 70s show up the other day because we were in the scheme she lives in," said Dr O’Donnell. "Her GP wouldn’t go to her house for some reason and she couldn’t walk to her community centre."