"it’s inspired us to really emphasise the job that we do"
Two brothers have started an innovative ‘jabs with kebabs’ initiative at their restaurant to boost the Covid-19 vaccine uptake in the community.
Rav and Raj Chopra run V’s Punjabi Grill, a family-run restaurant in Gravesend, Kent.
The brothers, who are also pharmacists, were inspired to immunise the local community from their restaurant after their father, Jagtar Chopra, was hospitalised with Covid-19 in December 2020.
Jagtar has since fully recovered.
The men set up a clinic from a marquee attached to the restaurant on January 10, 2022 and have already immunised dozens of people.
Their restaurant is one of many little walk-in vaccine centres, alongside sports stadiums, shopping centres and nightclubs, that form part of the NHS’s wider vaccination programme.
Raj said he was inspired after his 74-year-old father became ill with the virus.
He explained: “From a personal point of view, it was very debilitating to see Dad like that.
“It got everyone’s emotions in play.
“To see it hit home so close to our hearts, it was a very tough pill – pardon the pun – to take.
“However, every cloud has a silver lining and it’s inspired us to really emphasise the job that we do, help the community and help out the fellow citizens in our home town and really try and protect as many people as we can.”
Jagtar said: “I thought I wasn’t going to make it, it was so bad.
“I was in hospital for about six nights and I was really, really ill, but thanks to all the doctors, all the staff, I pulled through.”
Praising the unique initiative, deputy lead for the NHS Covid vaccination programme Dr Nikki Kanani said:
“We continue to see incredible progress in the NHS Covid vaccination programme, with people still coming forward every day for their first dose, their second dose, their booster dose, and I am really proud of all our teams who are still being so creative, trying to make sure that the vaccine reaches the people who really need it.
“One of our fantastic initiatives over the last couple of weeks has been at V’s Punjabi Grill, where brothers who are pharmacists and also run a grill restaurant have set up shop outside of their restaurant, offering food alongside their vaccinations.
“So they’re just trying to be as creative as possible making sure that people get that lifesaving protection.”
V’s Punjabi Grill has also attracted the attention of politicians.
Local MP Adam Holloway praised the “fabulous” initiative.
The Conservative MP for Gravesham said:
“Here, the provision has been quite patchy.
“What’s great about this is that these guys are prepared to ramp up.
“We must remember that while we’re coming out, God willing, of the pandemic, and into an endemic phase, this current variant is not the last one we’re going to have.
“So these guys are showing real health entrepreneurialism operating out of the back of a restaurant in the middle of Gravesend. It’s a fabulous thing.”