A pair of Indian-origin pharmacist brothers are using their restaurant business to offer a special ‘Jabs with Kebabs’ service this weekend to encourage their community in Kent, south-east England, to come forward for their Covid-19 vaccines.
Rav and Raj Chopra, who own popular restaurant Punjabi Grill in Gravesend, set up the walk-in vaccine centre after their father became unwell with Covid-19 last year.
The duo is among thousands to volunteer for the National Health Service (NHS) vaccine programme, hoping the offer to grab some Indian food at the venue will prove attractive to those still hesitant about getting their vaccines.
“Having suffered the debilitating effects of Covid-19 last year, our dad had strongly urged us to temporarily give up the day-to-day running of our pharmacies and dedicate our efforts to the NHS vaccine programme,” the brothers said on Friday.
“So, we’re making the most of our place in the community to offer people vaccine advice with a side of spice and jabs with kebabs, and would strongly urge those who haven’t already taken up the offer to come forward this weekend – we’re just one of the many walk-in sites in the south east, it’s never been easier to get your jab,” they said.
NHS England said Rav and Raj’s Punjabi Grill is running alongside hundreds of pop-up sites across the country, with experts at hand to offer medical advice and administer the vaccine.
This includes so-called Jab Cabs and Booster Buses taking people to vaccine appointments in Birmingham and Manchester, where take-up has been lower than other areas.
“We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to get their jab so we’re going into the homes of those who are housebound, care homes, and putting on these incredible transport offers in tandem with local authorities, volunteer organisations and of course the taxi and bus providers themselves,” said Dr Nikki Kanani, the Indian-origin Deputy Lead for the NHS Covid Vaccination Programme
“If anyone has not yet had their booster, or either of their first two doses, then please do come forward – you can even grab a jab with a kebab in Kent this weekend. The evidence is clear that having two vaccinations does not give you enough protection from the Omicron strain so get boosted now,” she said.
The NHS says it has delivered more than 114 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine across England, including almost 31 million top-up boosters.
In Newcastle and London, there are so-called vaccine buses that bring the jabs to the door, while some local sites are also using support networks to help those who need support booking, travelling to and attending their appointment.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our vaccine programme has been a phenomenal success thanks to the NHS, our dedicated volunteers and everyone who has come forward for their jabs.
“The latest data shows that Omicron is in retreat but it’s not the end of the road – it was the jabs that have got us this far, and the jabs can keep us here too, so please 'Get Boosted Now'.”
Nottinghamshire and Blackpool are among the places offering free bus trips to those who need them, while there are more Jab Cab or free taxi services available across Liverpool, Sheffield, Swindon, Solihull and Cambridgeshire as part of efforts to reach as many people as possible.
The NHS said there are more than 3,000 vaccination sites across the country and jabs have been given at football stadiums, music festivals, places of worship, and restaurants.
Its “Grab A Jab” website offers guidance to walk-in centres in local areas.