TV and sports stars are urging ethnic minority communities to dispel myths about the Covid-19 vaccine and protect themselves and their families against the virus.
Although the UK has passed the 15 million vaccination target in mid February, many ethnic minorities remain unlikely to take up the vaccine, causing concerns that groups who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic will remain at risk of coronavirus.
Stars including comedian Romesh Ranganathan, singer and actress Beverley Knight and TV personality Adil Ray are addressing unique cultural challenges and concerns around the vaccine in black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in a video campaign.
The video, aired across all major commercial UK broadcasters on Thursday night, at 9.56pm.
Actor and broadcaster Adil Ray OBE, who led the campaign said: “We are in unprecedented times and the fact remains this pandemic disproportionately effects people from ethnic minority communities.
"It’s heartening to see all the major broadcasters come together in an equally unprecedented television broadcast at this crucial time. An indication of how serious this situation is. We must all engage and encourage one another to do the right thing.
"The message is simple; take the vaccine, save lives.”
Prince Charles, who is backing the campaign, said: “It is clear that the virus has affected all parts of the country, and all sections of society – but it is also clear that there are particular challenges faced in particular sections of our society, especially in some ethnic minority communities.
"What saddens me even further is to hear that those challenges are being made even worse by the variable uptake of the vaccines which finally offer us a way out of the suffering of the past year.”
Other stars in the video include: David Olusoga, Denise Lewis, Hugh Quarshie and Hassan Akad; TV stars Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE, Meera Syal CBE, Shobna Gulati and Asim Chaudhry; England cricketer Moeen Ali; and broadcasters Konnie Huq, Alex Beresford, Mehreen Baig, Ria Hebden and Sonali Shah.
While the BBC’s charter prevents it from taking part in campaigns, the broadcaster will be looking issues raised by the campaign.
Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV said: “Encouraging take up of the vaccine will save lives. That’s why ITV has worked with the other broadcasters to create a unique ‘roadblock’ simultaneous transmission so that this message is delivered to the most people at the same time.”
Alex Mahon, CEO of Channel 4 said: “Channel 4 has significant reach with diverse audiences across the UK and we’re delighted to be able to help get this important message far and wide at such a critical time.”
The three-and-a-half minute film was also shown at a webinar addressing vaccine hesitancy in ethnic communities introduced by Prince Charles and organised by the British Asian Trust on Thursday morning.
The event featured key speakers such as vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi, Public Health England director Professor Kevin Fenton and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
The campaign has been managed by cultural diversity specialist agency Media Hive and creatively supported by leading advertising agency Engine.
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