British broadcasters are to air a celebrity-endorsed simulcast urging Black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to set aside their concerns and embrace the Covid-19 vaccine.
Airing at 9.56pm tonight, the national television broadcast features endorsements from prominent personalities including Adil Ray, Moeen Ali, Denise Lewis, Romesh Ranganathan, Meera Syal, David Olusoga and Beverley Knight, to get the message across.
Encouraging the BAME community to vaccinate
Concerted public health messaging has sought to counter misinformation surrounding the jab, with the NHS recruiting Michael Caine and Elton John to spread science through the universal medium of comedy.
Concerns were mounting that such messages were not reaching Black, Asian and mixed-ethnicity (BAME) audiences, with data showing that white people were more than twice as likely to accept the vaccination as black people among those aged 80+ in England.
The new campaign, revealed by the Guardian, is expected to reach an audience of 10 million people across ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky tonight at 9.56pm, and aims to redress this imbalance.
Notably absent from this united front is the BBC, which is barred from participating in campaigns. The broadcaster will play its part by covering the campaign across TV and radio throughout the day.
In support of this message, the British Asian Trust is hosting a webinar led by the Prince of Wales to assuage concerns, with input from vaccine minister, Nadhim Zahawi; professor Kevin Fenton, director of Public Health England; and Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London.
ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall 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.”
Alexandra Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4, added: “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.”
An ‘unprecedented’ moment
Widespread distrust of vaccines has been attributed to a lack of trust and claims that the vaccine contains pork, alcohol, is not halal or that it alters DNA.
To counter such notions actors Sanjeev Bhaskar, Asim Chaudhry and Nina Wadia, presenter Konnie Huq, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the former Conservative party chair Sayeeda Warsi will present a united front to counter such falsehoods.
Actor and broadcaster Adil Ray said: “We must all engage and encourage one another to do the right thing. The message is simple: take the vaccine, save lives.”
Stephen van Rooyen, Sky chief executive for UK and Europe, commented: “Sky is proud to be part of the biggest roadblock in television history, to tackle one of the biggest challenges that we have ever faced and make a difference to so many lives.”
Timothy Davie, director-general of the BBC, averred: “It’s crucial that everyone knows the truth about vaccines. We know there is lots of misinformation online and elsewhere. That’s why the BBC will be looking at the issues raised so extensively.”