Actor Lenny Henry tells Black Britons: get the COVID vaccine

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LONDON (Reuters) -Actor and comedian Lenny Henry and other prominent figures on Tuesday urged Black Britons to take the COVID-19 vaccine after figures showed a big lag in those from Britain’s Black community having the shot compared to the rest of the population.

The Office for National Statistics said on Monday that while overall more than 90% of those aged over 70 had received their first vaccine shot, the take up rates among people identifying as Black African and Black Caribbean were just 58.8% and 68.7% respectively.

Henry wrote an open letter encouraging those in the Black community to get a shot, while he and other high profile names including actors Chiwetel Ejiofo, David Harewood and Adjoa Andoh appear in a short film which will be broadcast on television.

“I hear and understand the concerns which people of all backgrounds are wrestling with, but which are particularly concerning in Black communities,” Henry said.

“I want people to be safe, I don’t want people to die or end up in hospital because of Covid-19. So I’m saying, when your turn comes, take the jab.”

Overall more than 30 million people in Britain have so far received their first COVID shot.

However, ONS figures showed that 85% of White Britons reported they were likely to get the shot compared to fewer than half, 49%, of Black or Black British adults, even though death rates have been higher in Black communities.

“You have legitimate worries and concerns, we hear that. We know change needs to happen and that it’s hard to trust some institutions and authorities,” Henry said.

“Don’t let your understandable fears be what holds you back. Don’t let your concerns be the thing that widens racial inequality in our society. Don’t let Black people continue to be disproportionately impacted by this terrible disease.”

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