Celebrities including Sir Lenny Henry and Lydia West have joined forces to tackle coronavirus vaccine hesitancy in a new short film.
The video aims to address common misconceptions and worries surrounding vaccination, particularly among younger people and ethnic minorities who research has shown are less willing to have a COVID-19 vaccine.
"There is no scientific evidence to say the vaccine will be any less effective for ethnic minorities." Navin Chowdhry
“People in the Black, Asian, Ethnic and Minority community are 20% less likely to take up the vaccine,” comedian Sir Lenny says in the video, led by Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation.
“There is no scientific evidence to say the vaccine will be any less effective for people from ethnic and minority backgrounds,” adds Navin Chowdhry, Imperial alumnus best known for roles in British TV series Teachers and Dalziel and Pascoe. Actress Liz Hurley and comedian David Walliams also join the campaign.
In the light-hearted film, the celebrities take turns to audition for a part in a vaccine movie, while each confronting concerns and beliefs held by some people which may make them reluctant to get vaccinated.
Addressing coronavirus vaccine worries
Recent survey data shows that while vaccine confidence continues to grow worldwide, in some countries such as France and Japan, fewer than half of people would take a COVID-19 vaccine if offered one. Commonly cited concerns include worries over potential side effects and whether the vaccines are safe and effective.
"The vaccine does not contain the live virus – and is definitely working." Sir Lenny Henry
“The vaccine does not contain the live virus – and is definitely working,” says Sir Lenny while doing an impression of Trevor McDonald.
“And there’s no evidence it affects fertility,” adds Lydia West, star of hard-hitting Channel 4 series It’s a Sin.
The film was commissioned by Professor the Lord Ara Darzi, co-director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London and Consultant Surgeon at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
Professor Darzi said: “Vaccines offer us the best chance of returning to normal life, and we are very fortunate to have a growing number of highly safe and effective vaccines that are already being shown to cut deaths and hospitalisations from the virus.
“But we know that some people, particularly younger generations and ethnic minorities, have worries that may stop them from taking the vaccine when offered. We must listen to the concerns people are voicing and with this campaign we hope to offer reassurance and show how important it is to get vaccinated, so that we can bring closer the end to this devastating pandemic.”
Tackling vaccine hesitancy
The film is a follow-on from a recent campaign with Sir Elton John and Sir Michael Caine which encouraged people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, amid concerns over low rates of willingness in certain countries and groups.
"I hope that through this campaign, we can show people that getting vaccinated isn’t something to be frightened of." Lydia West
Lydia West said: “It’s a frightening time for everyone right now, with people scared about getting COVID, worrying about the future and fearing for their loved ones. So it’s understandable that people might be worried about vaccines too.
"But I hope that through this campaign, we can show people that getting vaccinated isn’t something to be frightened of – it’s safe, not scary, and it’s an action we should do with pride to protect ourselves and those we care about.”The video was written and directed by Stephen Pipe and produced by Clare Gibson. It was filmed under COVID-19 restrictions at St Mary’s Hospital, London with support from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
The film is available at this link and can be aired for free on any online platform.
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