Actors Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton, radio personality Trevor Nelson, musician KSI and author Malorie Blackman are among the signatories on a letter by comedian Lenny Henry asking the U.K.’s Black population to take COVID-19 vaccination jabs.
An Office for National Statistic survey shows that less than half (49%) of Black or Black British adults reported that they were likely to have the vaccine, and National Health Service (NHS) data shows that only 466,000 Black British adults have had a first dose of the vaccine so far. Some 30 million people, more than half the U.K. population, have now received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose.
The letter, supported by the NHS, has also been turned into a short film, directed by BAFTA winner Amma Asante, which features Henry alongside actors “The Rook’s” Adrian Lester, “Supergirl’s” David Harewood, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s” Naomi Ackie and “Bridgerton’s” Adjoa Andoh. It will be aired across Sky, BT Sport, Viacom, Discovery, A&E and ROK and Channel 5 Tuesday from 8 p.m.
In the letter, Henry says: “You have legitimate worries and concerns, we hear that. We know change needs to happen and that it’s hard to trust some institutions and authorities.”
“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 U.K. 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.”
“And the thousands who volunteered to be part of the vaccine trials so that we know it’s safe and works for people of all ethnicities.”
“Don’t let their sacrifice be in vain,” Henry adds. “Don’t let your understandable fears be what holds you back. Don’t let your 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. 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.”
“I felt it was important to do my bit, so 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." – @LennyHenry
— NHS (@NHSuk) March 30, 2021