Grab an NHS booster with a bhaji this Christmas

Diners will be able to grab a COVID jab as a side order when a curry house becomes the latest pop-up site to join the NHS vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in the health service’s history.

MyLahore’s flagship restaurant in Bradford is the first eatery to take part in the national mission to protect as many people as possible in response to the threat posed by Omicron.

It is one of the dozens of pop-up sites which have been operating alongside thousands of permanent NHS vaccination centres as part of the push this week.

Experts will be on hand to discuss the benefits of getting vaccinated in what organisers hope will be a recipe for success in reaching groups who might not otherwise have come forward for their booster or even had a first jab.

It is among a huge range of initiatives that have seen NHS staff deliver jabs at shopping centres and Christmas markets, sports stadiums, racecourses, fire stations, theatres and a steam museum.

Town criers have been drumming up interest and some sites, including a theatre, have been running around the clock to meet the demand.

NHS National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis said: “Omicron cases are worryingly high so there is no reason to delay – if you haven’t done so you should get boosted now.

“NHS staff are putting on new sites all the time to make it as convenient as possible – you can even pick up a booster with a bhaji in Bradford.

“So whether you are out hunting for the perfect Christmas gift, stocking up on festive fare or heading to the football or other sporting fixtures it couldn’t be easier to get a jab.

“Vaccines protect you, your family and your friends so getting yours is the best Christmas gift you can give loved ones this year”.

Ishfaq Farooq, Director for MyLahore, said: “Alongside the NHS, we all have a part to play in the race to protect people from Omicron, which is why we’ve decided to put on this clinic for our customers, alongside the opportunity to talk to clinical experts so that they can get trusted information beforehand.

“I’m urging people from all communities who are now ready to get vaccinated to come forward and have your COVID-19 vaccine so we can keep our families safe”.

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “This is a fantastic initiative from the team at MyLahore restaurant and a testament to the community spirit of people in Bradford and across the country, pulling together for our national mission to get all eligible adults boosted in time for the New Year.

“It is wonderful to see pop-up vaccination sites opening at other popular locations in the UK, making it easier than ever to get boosted now. Please, do not delay – book your lifesaving booster jab to secure vital protection for yourself and your loved ones”.

The NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme continues to stretch to the far corners of the country, and saw fisherman netting their vital booster jab at a pop-up clinic in Penzance on Tuesday, keeping crew members safe and ensuring they can travel home to their families.

Shoppers can pick up grab a jab at retail centres including St Johns in Preston, Charter Walk in Burnley, and Westmorland shopping centre in Kendal.

‘Jingle jabs’ are also available at Christmas markets in Manchester or Chester where people can also visit the adjacent Chester Cathedral or the historic Rates Hall if they want to bag some COVID protection.

Apple Tree Hindu Temple in Crawley is also among hundreds of other settings to offer vaccinations to people before the end of the year, while Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham, also known as Al Abbas Pharmacy, is open every day including Christmas.

Sports grounds continue to play their part in the rollout, and this week fans can pick up their jab at Newton Abbot racecourse which is joining the race on Thursday, as the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in health service history, continues to expand.

In all, NHS staff will be vaccinating at around 3,000 sites this week with jabs available around the clock at Fareham Asda which is operating overnight clinics from Monday 22 to Thursday 23 December from 11pm to 7am each night and late-night jabbing at Artrix Theatre in Bromsgrove until Christmas Eve.

There are almost 700,000 slots still up for grabs across the country this week as more appointments are being added all the time, and NHS chiefs are urging people to “get boosted now”.

All eligible people aged 18 and over can now use the National Booking Service to make an appointment to get their jab at one of the thousands of centres across the country.

Every adult is eligible for a jab three months after their second following updated guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on 29 November.

In line with JCVI guidance the NHS cannot vaccinate people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 28 days and people in this group should book their appointment for once 28 days has passed.

More than 108 million vaccinations, including more than 25 million boosters, have been delivered since the NHS in England made history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial, in Coventry in December 2020.

The NHS in England gave out more than 1.5 million booster jabs over Saturday and Sunday in the biggest weekend for the COVID-19 vaccination programme so far.

The NHS has also delivered over one million first and second doses in December so far, as people continue to come forward for their initial jabs with vaccinations offering the best protection against coronavirus.

UK Health Security Agency data shows that two doses of a COVID vaccine are not enough to stop people becoming unwell from Omicron, but a third booster prevents around 75% of people from getting any COVID symptoms.

In response to the threat of the new variant, many vaccination sites are operating 12 hours a day, seven days a week and in every community there should be slots available at least 16 hours a day – with some sites extending to 24-hour operation to make it easier for people who work shift patterns.

NHS staff are being redeployed so that they can focus on protecting the entire country as quickly as possible and military aid will be in place in every region across the country to support NHS staff with planning for the extra vaccinations.

GP teams will be asked to clinically prioritise their services to free up maximal capacity to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme, alongside delivering critical appointments such as cancer, urgent and emergency care.

The NHS is asking people to be patient and consider the herculean effort we are asking of staff.