Comedian Sir Lenny Henry, actress Thandie Newton, author Malorie Blackman and DJ Trevor Nelson are among the Black British celebrities urging the Black community to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The stars have signed an open letter stating ‘change needs to happen’, as it is estimated that the rate for people in the black African group receiving a first vaccine dose is the lowest among all ethnic minority groups at 58.8%.
Older people of African backgrounds are more than seven times likely than white British older people to have not received the vaccine, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The letter insists that people ‘trust the facts about the vaccine’ while acknowledging ‘understandable fears’ in the Black community.
‘We know change needs to happen and that it’s hard to trust some institutions and authorities,’ Sir Lenny says.
‘But we’re asking you to trust the facts about the vaccine from our own professors, doctors, scientists involved in the vaccine’s development, GPs, not just in the UK but across the world including the Caribbean and Africa.
‘Many of whom are our relatives, many of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the people of this country from this pandemic.’
The letter has been turned into a short film by A United Kingdom director Amma Asante and will be aired on Channel 5 tonight at 8pm.
It stars actors Adrian Lester, David Harewood, Naomie Ackie and Ajoa Andoh.
Sir Lenny’s letter also stresses that the Black community shouldn’t let their concerns ‘be the thing that widens racial inequality in our society.’
‘Don’t let black people continue to be disproportionately impacted by this terrible disease,’ it continues.
‘Many in our community say they do not want to take the vaccine, much more than other groups.
‘But the fact is we have been disproportionately affected by the virus, many of our loved ones have died. Don’t let coronavirus cost even more black lives.’
Speaking about the film, the Comic Relief host said he ‘felt it was important to do my bit’.
He explained: ‘I wrote this letter to black Britain asking people not to get left behind, to not continue to be disproportionately impacted and to trust the facts from our doctors, professors and scientists, not just in the UK but across the world, including the Caribbean and Africa.
‘I hear and understand the concerns which people of all backgrounds are wrestling with, but which are particularly concerning in black communities.
‘I want people to be safe, I don’t want people to die or end up in hospital because of Covid-19. So I’m saying, when your turn comes, take the jab.
‘I want to thank everyone who has signed the letter and dear friends who took part in Amma’s beautiful film.’
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