Community Champions: Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Nina Wadia help bust vaccine myths

Community Champions: Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Nina Wadia help bust vaccine myths

British Indian celebrities, including the ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ team of Meera Syal CBE, Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE and Nina Wadia OBE as well as actors Shobna Gulati, Shobu Kapoor and Boman Irani, broadcaster Sonali Shah and chef Asma Khan, are among some of the prominent community champions who have come together for a special video campaign to help bust misinformation and myths around the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines.

“I’m so pleased that my mum has had the vaccine and I look forward to having mine,” says Syal, in her message for the British Indian diaspora to take up the jabs when it is their turn.

Actor-author Gulati adds: “We will find our way through this, and be united once again with our friends and our families. All we have to do is take the vaccination.

“My sister’s had the vaccine and I’m really looking forward to when it’s my turn.”

Fighting misinformation

The video follows surveys and reports highlighting a worrying trend of reluctance among Britain’s ethnic minority communities towards the jabs, with spurious claims of questionable ingredients and adverse long-term side effects adding to the problem.

To help address the specific concerns of the country’s diverse communities, this group of prominent personalities – including actor-presenter Adil Ray OBE as well as London Mayor Sadiq Khan – have been independently working on video messages over the past year that have been watched, shared and broadcast when it matters most, helping to inform and save lives.

Misleading information and confusing interpretations around the vaccine led this deeply concerned group to independently write and produce a video message entitled ‘If You Could Save Someone’s Life…’, which not only shares their heartfelt thoughts and advice on the vaccine but also their personal experiences of the vaccine.

Community efforts

The initiative backs up a concerted effort within government to ensure the communities found to be most at risk from the deadly virus are not left behind in the ongoing National Health Service (NHS) led vaccination programme.

This week, UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick allocated over £23 million funding to 60 councils and voluntary groups across England to expand work to boost vaccine take up. Through the government-backed Community Champions scheme, councils and voluntary organisations will deliver a wide range of measures to protect those most at risk – building trust, communicating accurate health information and ultimately helping to save lives. This will include developing new networks of trusted local champions where they don’t already exist.

Jenrick said: “It is vital that everyone has access to accurate and up to date information about Covid-19. False information about Covid-19 vaccines could cost lives.”

Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi added: “We want all communities to take up the offer of a free vaccine and I have been working closely with faith and community leaders to ensure those who may be at higher risk of harm from this virus know how they can benefit from a vaccine.

“The expansion of the Community Champions scheme will help everyone get the advice and information they need about Covid-19 vaccines.”

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