Broadcasters unite for major campaign tackling vaccine hesitancy among ethnic minorities

The ad will run simultaneously on ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 as research shows lower vaccine take-up among ethnic minority communities.

#TakeTheVaccine: celebrities appear in video which is estimated to reach 10 million people
#TakeTheVaccine: celebrities appear in video which is estimated to reach 10 million people

The UK’s major commercial broadcasters have come together to air a campaign encouraging ethnic-minority communities to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

The TV ad roadblock, #TakeTheVaccine, will run simultaneously on ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, as well as on some Sky TV channels and STV, at 9:56pm tonight (18 February). 

The BBC will not show the film, since its charter prevents it from taking part in campaigns, but it will cover the topic in some radio and TV programmes on Thursday. 

The broadcasters estimate the campaign will reach an audience of 10 million. 

The three-and-a-half minute video features prominent figures, including Adil Ray, Moeen Ali, Denise Lewis, Romesh Ranganathan, Meera Syal, David Olusoga and Beverley Knight, who address vaccine hesitancy among ethnic-minority communities.

They debunk myths about the vaccine, such as it containing animal products, not being halal or causing infertility. "There's no chip or tracker in the vaccine to keep watching where you go," Ranganathan says in the ad. "Your mobile phone actually does a much better job of that."

The video will also run today during a webinar event organised by the British Asian Trust, which will address vaccine hesitancy and feature Prince Charles, London mayor Sadiq Khan and vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi, among others. 

The campaign will also run across digital out-of-home sites in partnership with Clear Channel. It was managed by Samir Ahmed, founder of cultural diversity specialist agency Media Hive, with creative support from the ad agency Engine.

The initiative follows research that shows black, Asian and ethnic-minority people are less likely to get vaccinated than white people among those aged 80 and above in England. 

Yet ethnic minorities have also been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, with higher Covid-19 death rates compared with white people. 

An earlier version of the film ran online in January and was reshot and re-edited for this campaign. Ray, who created and stars in the series Citizen Khan, organised the video and said: “We are in unprecedented times and the fact remains this pandemic disproportionately affects people from ethnic minority communities.

“It's heartening to see all 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.”

There have been other efforts to tackle misinformation about the Covid vaccine among ethnic minorities, such as a video from think tank The Runnymede Trust in January which encouraged people to take the vaccine and included contributions from the chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Imam Mohammed Mahmoud of East London mosque and Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin.

Last week, NHS England released a campaign encouraging older people to get the vaccine, which featured Sir Elton John and Sir Michael Caine.


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