A Coronation Street actress has released a personal video message encouraging Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities across Greater Manchester to take up the Covid-19 vaccine.
Shelley King, who is of Indian heritage, has played Yasmeen Nazir on the ITV soap since 2014, and received her first Covid jab earlier this month.
A recent report by the Royal Society for Public Health found that 57% of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people asked said they would take a Covid vaccine, compared with 79% of white respondents.
Mrs King, 65, who was born in Kolkata, is now keen to help dispel any myths that may be dissuading some people from taking up the jab.
She’s hoping to motivate people in these communities to do everything they can to protect themselves and their loved ones by having the jab as soon as they’re offered it.
“The vaccine really is the only logical way for all of us to return to a way of living that many of us took for granted before,” she explained.
“So I would absolutely encourage people of all ethnicities across all of our local communities in Greater Manchester to get vaccinated as soon as they are able to, and to encourage their families and friends to do the same, for the sake of our health, our safety and for the sake of humanity as a whole.”
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The actress, who now bases herself between Manchester and London, released the video message in association with the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA), which looks after patients across Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and Salford.
The NCA has written to all BAME staff members to reassure them about the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, both of which are being administered to staff across its four vaccination hubs.
Raj Jain, Chief Executive Officer at the NCA said: “We are thrilled to have safely vaccinated tens of thousands of our staff and eligible patients since we took delivery of the first vaccines at the end of December.
“I’d like to extend our thanks to Shelley for her support and would echo her views on the need for us to dispel the myths we know are out there.
“We would like to reassure our BAME staff and all of the wider communities we serve about the safety and of the vaccine, and we are working with our community and faith leaders to encourage people to come forward when it’s their turn and have their jab, to help us all return to a life where we can spend time with our families and friends.”
Studies have indicated that people from minority ethnic backgrounds are dying disproportionately from the virus, yet often people from these communities are refusing to take the vaccine.
A number of conspiracy theories and misleading claims about the jab have been circulating on social media, which may be causing people to hesitate about taking it.
Among the myths commonly shared are a claim that the vaccine contains pork products, which is untrue as manufacturers have confirmed that no animal products are used in its production. Others claim that the vaccine affects your fertility, or contains microchips, both of which are unfounded and untrue.
England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van Tam highlighted the dangers of misinformation about the vaccine in a press briefing earlier this year.
With more than 12 million vaccines administered across the UK, he said, “we’re getting to a point where, if we were going to see any kind of safety signal, it would be pretty obvious by now.”
He said the vast majority of people would prefer to take their vaccine advice from trusted sources rather than “some of the nonsense that is circulated on social media”.
“If my central heating system breaks down I’m going to call a heating engineer to explain to me what’s wrong and what needs to be fixed… I’m not going to ask a brain surgeon,” he added.
“So why would you go to those kind of sources of information when you have really readily accessible good sources from trusted voices in the NHS? Your own health professionals that you know and see periodically throughout your life?”
Shelley agreed with his concerns, warning people of the ‘misleading’ claims that are ‘designed to frighten’ the most vulnerable.
“There’s a real risk that fake news and rumours about the vaccine will negatively affect the decisions being made by some people in the highest risk groups, and these ‘facts’ that are being shared across various platforms are very dangerous and misleading,” she said.
“They’re designed to frighten people and damage their confidence in the vaccine, when in fact what we need to do is reassure people of its safety so that we can all take a step closer to the lives we’ve missed so much since lockdown began, whatever our ethnicity, race or religion.”