The Guardian has highlighted a video campaign by celebrities including actors Adil Ray and Meera Syal urging those from ethnic minorities to take the Covid-19 vaccine in a bid to counter misinformation and vaccine hesitancy.
The rate of Covid infections and deaths among minorities has been disproportionately high compared with the white British population, but only 57% of those from BAME communities will have the jab if a GP advises them to, polls have suggested.
The campaign follows a pledge by English local authorities of £23m in funding to encourage high-risk groups to help fight misinformation around coronavirus vaccines and to encourage uptake of the jab among more high-risk communities.
Citizen Khan creator and star Adil Ray, who helped to organise the video, said: “Unfortunately we are now fighting another pandemic – misinformation – where communities who are ignored are preyed upon and voices that endanger lives are amplified.
“Whilst these communities must accept some responsibility too, and take the vaccine to save lives, we all must do what we can and come together to fight this deadly virus. We hope this video can help dispel some of the myths and offer some encouragement for everyone to take the vaccine.”
The greater reluctance of people from ethnic minority communities has been ascribed to factors including poorer engagement with the health service historically, lack of trust, and exploitation of religious concerns through claims the vaccine contains pork or alcohol, is not halal or alters DNA.
The video – which also features comedian Romesh Ranganathan, presenter Konnie Huq, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the former Tory party chair Sayeeda Warsi – debunks those falsehoods and others.
In addition to the paper’s front page on the issue, the Guardian’s flagship Today in Focus podcast featured an episode on Vaccine hestitancy: what is behind the fears circulating in BAME communities?
Community affairs correspondent Nazia Parveen spoke to the podcast’s Rachel Humphreys to examine the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities.
The episode also brought in commentary from Annabel Sowemimo, community sexual and reproductive health doctor, who outlined the historical health inequalities leading to a higher level of mistrust of vaccines in communities – and what can be done to combat it.