Jabs and kebabs: Brothers offer Covid vaccines at grill after father’s illness

Pharmacists Rav and Raj Chopra have been administering Covid vaccines to dozens of people a day at their Punjabi restaurant in Kent.

Laura Parnaby
Saturday 22 January 2022 17:54
Clifford Rodrigues, Rav Chopra, Raj Chopra and Jagtar Chopra (Laura Parnaby/PA).
Clifford Rodrigues, Rav Chopra, Raj Chopra and Jagtar Chopra (Laura Parnaby/PA).

Two brothers have been inspired to immunise hundreds of people from their Punjabi grill after their father was admitted to hospital with coronavirus.

Rav and Raj Chopra, who are also pharmacists, have been immunising dozens of people a day at their restaurant, V’s Punjabi Grill, in Gravesend Kent where uptake has been comparatively low.

The men set up the clinic from a marquee attached to the restaurant on January 10 this year, after their father Jagtar Chopra, 74, became severely ill with coronavirus in December 2020.

Speaking at the grill, Raj, 43, told the PA news agency: “From a personal point of view, it was very debilitating to see dad like that. It got everyone’s emotions in play.

Rav Chopra vaccinating a customer (Laura Parnaby/PA).

“Although we do what we do on a daily basis, 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.”

Mr Chopra senior, who has made a full recovery, added: “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.”

Rav Chopra urged local people to “come down, get your jabs” to “protect everyone in society”.

Local MP Adam Holloway visited the restaurant and praised the brothers for improving vaccine uptake in the area.

Privacy booth (Laura Parnaby/PA).

The Conservative MP for Gravesham told PA: “Here, the provision has been quite patchy.

“We had an amazing effort by the various groups of GPs at the beginning. But what’s great about this is that these guys are prepared to ramp up (the rollout).

“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.”

The brothers’ kebab shop is one of hundreds of walk-ins which are part of the NHS vaccination programme drive, and other locations have included sport stadiums, shopping centres and Heaven nightclub in London.

Amid efforts to ensure everyone has access to a vaccine, a person with additional learning needs was given their jab at home in a hot tub, according to deputy lead for the NHS Covid vaccination programme Dr Nikki Kanani.

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

Raj Chopra

Dr Kanani, who is also a GP, said on Saturday: “If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, it’s not too late. There is always a vaccine available for you with your name on it.

“It’s there for you and no-one will judge you if you’ve decided just now to come forward for your first vaccine. Please come forward.”

“Jab cabs” are taking people to vaccine appointments in Birmingham and Manchester, where take-up has been relatively low, while “booster bus” services are operating in Surrey and Somerset, NHS England said.

NHS England has said more than 115 million doses of the Covid vaccines have been administered across the country, including 31 million boosters.

On Friday, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it had designated a “sub-lineage” of the Omicron variant as a “variant under investigation”, meaning it can be monitored.

It said the proportion of cases of this sub-variant are low, with 426 confirmed, the earliest dating back to December 6, and the original variant is dominant in the UK.

Latest Government figures show there were 76,807 new cases of Covid-19 reported in the UK on Saturday, while a further 297 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.

A total of 52,203,675 first doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been delivered in the UK by January 21, Government figures show, along with 48,115,948 second doses and a combined total of 36,821,284 booster and third doses.

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