Our stadium at Plough Lane is now playing a vital part in the battle against the global pandemic by hosting an NHS Covid-19 vaccination centre.
The centre will play a key role in vaccinating eligible residents as well as health and care staff.
Vaccinations will take place in the function room with a view of the ground and will be delivered by NHS staff and volunteers. Facilities have been altered so that jabs can be done safely and efficiently while allowing people to continue social distancing. The picture above shows Site Matron Brigatte Mishov at Plough Lane today.
Dr Vasa Gnanapragasam, GP Borough Lead for Merton, said: “We’re very grateful to AFC Wimbledon for allowing us to use their wonderful new football stadium as a vaccination centre and for giving the NHS such fantastic support.
“The coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective – helping us bring COVID-19 under control and offering realistic hope of a way out of the pandemic.”
Joe Palmer, Chief Executive of AFC Wimbledon, said: “We are really glad to be able to support the NHS and the vaccination programme through the provision of our new event space at the stadium.
“Unfortunately, we've not been able to use the stadium for its intended purpose throughout the pandemic, so it will be great to make it available for something so essential for the community. Being one of the largest venues in south west London, we hope we will help make a big contribution to the number of people being vaccinated, as well as giving people the chance to experience our exciting new stadium for the first time.”
Mark Betteridge, who lives locally, was the first person to be vaccinated at Plough Lane today. He said: “I’ve had the honour of being the first person to get my vaccine at Plough Lane. AFC Wimbledon has a fantastic place in the heart of local people and it’s a marvellous new stadium. The community is really proud to have the club home here in Merton again. It's clearly running like clockwork. I'd encourage everyone eligible to get along, and get their vaccine. It’s really easy and so necessary. The wonderful NHS staff here are giving their time to look after us, so we can honour them by getting our vaccines.”
Marc Jones, one of AFC Wimbledon’s founder members, was among those to get vaccinated today. Marc said: I'm proud to be one of the first four people to be vaccinated at AFC Wimbledon. I’ve been involved with the club since we restarted again in 2002, so I've seen the stadium rise from the cinders. The stadium has been built and open for the footballers to play, but because of the pandemic we've not been allowed in. So I don't think I'm going to be unique, I think you're going to see a lot of fans coming in, wide-eyed, because we've not been able to see in here.
“This is our vision of what a fan-owned club is all about, us being in the middle of the community – and not just to watch football matches. Hopefully, the vaccine means we can get back to some sort of normality. My Mum was gravely ill a couple of years ago, so I know the NHS is amazing. The NHS not only saved my Mum, but it's also given us the chance to get back together.”
Cricket commentator Daniel Norcross was the third person to get the vaccine at Plough Lane today. He said: “I'm a long-time fan of AFC Wimbledon – the first time I went to see the club play was in 1982 - I got stuck in the away end by accident! When I heard you could get vaccinations here I applied for my jab using the link, and this is further away than any of the other options. I've been waiting for this ground to open for ages.
“I thought, ‘wouldn't it be brilliant if the first time I came in was an entirely memorable event, rather than a 0-0 draw!’ I'm a cricket commentator, so I'm quite used to being inside a large stadium, but this has been tantalisingly out of reach when I’ve driven past it time and again.”
If you are over 50 years of age, have a health condition that puts you at greater risk, or are a carer for someone who is, or if you are a health or social care worker, call 119 now. Alternatively, go online to book your first COVID-19 vaccination appointment by visiting www.nhs.uk. Or search ‘book a COVID vaccination’.
The centre is being operated by appointment only. Only those who are eligible can get a COVID-19 jab, including the following:
- people aged 50 and over
- people at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
- people who live or work in care homes
- health and social care workers
- people with a condition that puts them at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)
- people with a learning disability
- people who are a main carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus.
Find out more about the COVID-19 vaccination programme by visiting the NHS website.