Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, actor Thandie Newton, radio host Trevor Nelson and author Malorie Blackman are among the signatories of the letter which called on people to “trust” the vaccine and not let ” concerns be what exacerbates racial inequalities in our society ”.
Sir Lenny’s NHS-backed letter says: ‘We don’t want you to be left out or left behind. As other communities rush to get the vaccine and millions of people have already been vaccinated, some black people in our community are more careful. ”
It comes as 30 million people have received their first dose of vaccine, more than half of the UK’s adult population.
However, figures from the Office for National Statistics taken from January 13 to February 7 show that less than half (49%) of black or black British adults reported being likely to have the vaccine.
Sir Lenny also blamed an “element of mistrust” in the system for the caution of the black community. He said: “I thought it was important to do my part and so I wrote this letter to black Britain to ask people not to be left behind, not to continue to be affected. disproportionately and trusting the facts of our doctors, professors and scientists, not just in the UK but around the world, including the Caribbean and Africa. ”
The open letter accompanies a short film by BAFTA-winning director Amma Asante, which features Sir Lenny alongside other actors including actor Adrian Lester and Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover.
London’s regional director for public health in England, Professor Kevin Fenton, said “we can all play a role” in encouraging friends and family to get vaccinated.
He said people should direct others “to information and advice from reliable sources” and not “to pass on myths and misinformation circulating on social media.”
Professor Fenton said: “We know our black communities have been among the hardest hit during this pandemic, but we also know that some of us are less likely to show up for the life-saving vaccine… Let’s all do. for our part, let’s continue our loved ones are safe and put an end to this pandemic as soon as possible ”.
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Sir Lenny Henry’s letter in full
Dear moms, dads, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, daughters, sons and cousins,
We love you!
We know we don’t say it often enough and sometimes we have our disagreements, like all families, but wherever you are we love you from the bottom of our hearts and we know you love us.
And we want to see you again. Covid-19 has kept us apart for too long. We want to hug you, we want to celebrate with you, we want to go out to dinner with you, we want to worship with you, we want to go watch football and cricket with you, we want to beat you at video games – in the same room so that we can see the look on your face when we do it.
But to do all of this, we all have to take the Covid-19 blow. It’s all of us together.
Things will slowly return to normal. Well, what people call the new normal. The reality is that the new standard may mean needing a vaccine to do many of the things we now take for granted.
Because we love you – we want you to be safe and we don’t want you to be left out or left behind. As other communities rush to get vaccinated and millions of people have already been vaccinated, some black people in our community are more cautious.
You have legitimate concerns and concerns, we hear that. We know that changes must occur and that it is difficult to trust certain institutions and authorities.
But we ask you to trust the vaccine facts from our own teachers, doctors, scientists involved in vaccine development, general practitioners, not just in the UK but around the world including the Caribbean and Africa. .
Many of them are our parents, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the people of this country from this pandemic.
And the thousands of people who have volunteered to participate in vaccine trials so we know it’s safe and works for people of all ethnicities.
Don’t let their sacrifice be in vain. Don’t let your understandable fears be what is holding you back. Don’t let your concerns be what exacerbates racial inequalities in our society.
Do not let black people continue to be disproportionately affected by this terrible disease.
Many in our community say they do not want to be vaccinated, much more than other groups. But the point is, we have been disproportionately affected by the virus, many of our loved ones have died. Don’t let the coronavirus cost black people even more lives.
We love you. We don’t want you to get sick. We don’t want you to die.
We know you love us too, so listen to us and when your turn comes, take the plunge.
And once you do, tell cousin Mo to do the same (is he really my cousin?)
Let’s do this together.