Santa hats at the ready as ‘jingle jabs’ go on at Christmas vaccination centres

Santa hats and Christmas jumpers added festive colour to the usual PPE for the “jingle jabs” NHS campaign in east London on Christmas Day.

In one of at least eight vaccination centres open in Inglaterra, volunteers decorated Redbridge town hall with Christmas-themed pictures and festive messages as they dealt with a fast-moving queue for booster jabs.

“We’ve tried to jazz it up a little bit, tried to decorate some of the bays. There’s only a limited amount we can do from a clinical point of view, but we’ve tried. Those with their Christmas hats have got them on while trying to observe full PPE,” said Imran Khan, a senior clinical pharmacist at the centre.

Khan said the campaign to get people vaccinated at centres open from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day was useful in a diverse area like Ilford and especially for workers who did not have the luxury of working from home.

Sadique Shikder, 46, said his job as a bartender meant he was usually too busy to get to a vaccination centre, as did 54-year-old Azmat Hussain, who said he would normally be travelling as a salesman in the financial sector. “We usually do a dinner today and it’s my mum’s birthday as well but because of Covid we’ve had to scale back so I’ll go back and watch TV,” said Hussain.

Health secretary Sajid Javid encouraged people to “make the booster a part of your Christmas this year” in response to Omicron, and the NHS tweeted its gratitude to everyone working through the festive period.

Primary school teacher Anam Choudhury, 28, said she booked in to get vaccinated on Christmas Day because she expected it to be quiet.

“I’m a teacher so wanted to time it for the Christmas holiday and thought I’d get it done today. I’m surprised it’s so busy – I thought I’d be the only one here," ella dijo. “I think it’s good they’ve got it open as much as possible so people can make the most of it before they go back to work.”

“Normally I go and see family but we’ve obviously been a bit wary and reduced it, so it’s just my children and my husband at home. My husband does the cooking so he’s at home preparing.”

Volunteer Hashminder Singh Kohli, who is Sikh, said he was happy to be working on Christmas Day and considered it part of his religion to be helping out. Kohli, 54, said he was semi-retired after he closed a business importing Italian clothes because of Brexit.

“I didn’t want to sit down and become a couch potato so I volunteered, and it’s also part of my faith to help whoever needs it, whoever they are,” said Kohli, who was encouraged at the centre by Khan, his longtime friend.

His plan was to go and see friends for dinner after finishing at the vaccine centre, while Khan said their usual family dinner, though scaled down, was already being prepared.

“I prepped my roast potatoes yesterday as I’m the roast-potato man in our house and they’ll be going in the oven later on, and my wife’s getting the roast chicken ready – the halal chicken," él dijo.

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