Dracula's castle and other interesting vaccine sites

From a cathedral crypt to Disneyland, health officials are getting creative with mass COVID-19 vaccination centres.

Monika Warzecha 5 minute read June 2, 2021
dracula castle vaccine

A castle in Romania known for being a tourist hotspot for Dracula fans started giving out COVID-19 vaccines. Getty

Canadians have lined up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in a variety of makeshift locations: convention centres and hockey rinks have attracted thousands of people. A former Target store in Toronto made headlines for vaccinating more than 10,000 people in less than 24 hours.

But we’re definitely not alone when it comes to making do with whatever massive spaces we have available to get shots into arms. All around the world, health officials are getting creative with vaccine pop-ups and clinics. Here are some of the most interesting locations:

Dracula’s castle

dracula castle vaccine

People wearing protection masks walk by a banner showing syringes as vampire fangs during the vaccination marathon organized at the “Bran Castle” in Bran village on May 8, 2021. DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images

In May, Romanian health officials began offering the Pfizer vaccine in a place associated with legends of bloodsuckers and creepy counts. The BBC reported “medics with fang stickers on their scrubs” were giving the shot in the 14th-century Bran Castle. It’s believed to have inspired Bram Stoker’s 19th century novel, Dracula, and the fictitious Count Dracula, an aristocratic vampire who calls a decaying Transylvanian castle home. The site is also associated with another man of history and legend, Vlad the Impaler, and has become a major tourist spot.

Those who get the non-vampiric puncture at the castle also “get a special certificate and an invitation to visit the castle again valid for the next 100 years,” according to Euro News.

U.K. cathedrals

cathedral vaccine site

Members of the public receive a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine at Lichfield cathedral, which has been converted into a temporary vaccination centre, in Lichfield, central England on March 18, 2021. OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Organ music and antibodies go well together. The U.K. turned several centuries-old cathedrals into vaccine centres. Lichfield Cathedral, a place of worship with medieval beginnings, was the first British cathedral to open its doors to patients. A member of the local primary care network told reporters that the site works as a vaccine centre in part because it’s easy to find for locals, plus it has plenty of parking and is big enough to provide adequate social distancing.

Blackburn Cathedral’s crypt also opened as the first large vaccination centre in Lancashire. The Dean of the cathedral, the Very Rev. Peter Howell-Jones, pointed out that COVID-19 was the only world event that had ever forced the place of worship to close its doors — it had even stayed open amid war. “Now as we have reopened, to be part of this national mass vaccination roll-out very much puts us in the history books.”

Completed in 1258, Salisbury Cathedral is among the country’s most famous cathedrals, boasting the tallest spire in Britain and the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta among the four existing copies that date back to 1215. In January, Britons who lined up for a COVID-19 shot were treated to live organ music, with the music director hoping selections from Bach, Handel and Pachelbel would provide a relaxing atmosphere.

Zanzibar strip club

The Zanzibar Tavern, located at 359 Yonge Street in Toronto, Tuesday September 13, 2011. Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Zanzibar Tavern, which first opened in downtown Toronto in 1959, has a storied past and remains one of the last holdouts on Yonge Street from a time when the area was synonymous with the flash of neon lights and wild times.

The adult entertainment nightclub will transform into a no-surveillance vaccine clinic offering the COVID-19 shot to marginalized communities and sex workers on June 4. It’s the brainchild of Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project, in partnership with Unity Health and Sherbourne Health. NOW Magazine reports the location offers first-doses of the Pfizer vaccine without requiring OHIP, identification or an address from patients. It’s Maggie’s third low-barrier vaccine clinic.

One of the club’s owners, Natalie Cooper, told the CBC she’s pleased to have Zanzibar host the clinic.”A lot of people in this industry have been unfairly blamed for spreading illness for a long time and we just wanted to make it very clear that we feel very strongly about stopping the spread of COVID.”

Disneyland became the “happiest place on earth” for Californians eager to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. From mid-January to late April, health officials were able to give more than 200,000 shots at the resort. In its last month of operation, health officials at the “super POD” or Point-of-Dispensing site solely administered second doses of the vaccine. The vaccines were administered in the Disneyland parking lot and shifted to in-car vaccinations only in March.

Christ the Redeemer Statue

Brazil vaccine

Teresinha Conceicao receives the Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil January 18, 2021. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Brazil kicked off its vaccine rollout in front an impressive backdrop. The first people in Rio de Janeiro to be vaccinated, two healthcare workers, were given the Sinovac Biotech vaccine at the base of the city’s mountainous Christ the Redeemer statue in January.

In May, the message “Vaccine saves, United for vaccines” was projected onto the 30-metre tall statue as the country struggled with rollout. Reuters reports that Brazil ranks 30th in the world based on first doses given and has been ravaged by the virus with nearly 463,000 deaths.

President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticized for his handling of the pandemic, actively attacking vaccines in the press and refusing to recieve the shot. The Lancet reports that civil society organizations and health NGOs are stepping into the void and running campaigns to dispel misinformation and encourage people to get vaccinated.


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