A video campaign urging ethnic minority communities to take the Covid-19 vaccine is to be aired simultaneously by the main British broadcasters on Thursday.
The national television broadcast, which features personalities including Adil Ray, Moeen Ali, Denise Lewis, Romesh Ranganathan, Meera Syal, David Olusoga and Beverley Knight, addresses cultural concerns about the vaccine in minority communities.
The video will be screened, at 9.56pm, by the commercial broadcasters ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5, as well as by Sky TV channels. The BBC’s charter prevents it from taking part in campaigns, but the public broadcaster will cover the campaign on key TV and radio programmes throughout the day.
Recent data has shown that black, Asian and mixed-ethnicity people were less likely to have been vaccinated than white people among those aged 80 and older in England. White people were almost twice as likely to have been vaccinated as black people among over-80s in England.
Ray, an actor and broadcaster who led the campaign, said: “We are in unprecedented times and the fact remains that this pandemic disproportionately affects people from ethnic minority communities.
“It’s heartening to see the major broadcasters come together in an equally unprecedented television broadcast at this crucial time, an indication of how serious this situation is. We must all engage and encourage one another to do the right thing. The message is simple: take the vaccine, save lives.”
The campaign expects the video to reach an audience of 10 million people. It comes on a day of action organised by the British Asian Trust, when the Prince of Wales will lead a webinar addressing vaccine hesitancy in ethnic communities. The event will also feature the vaccine minister, Nadhim Zahawi, Prof Kevin Fenton, director of Public Health England, and Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London.
Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of ITV, 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, CEO of Channel 4, said: “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.”
Stephen van Rooyen, Sky’s CEO for UK and Europe, said: “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, said: “Vaccinations will make a vital difference. That’s why the issues raised by this film are so incredibly important. It is 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.”