Love Island star Yewande Biala has urged young people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds to get the Covid-19 jab.
The science graduate, who has worked in vaccine development, appeared in a video speaking with healthcare professionals Professor Kevin Fenton and Dr Emeka Okorocha about issues surrounding the vaccine and its rollout.
Biala, who competed in the 2019 series of the ITV reality show, said there was an “abundance of scientific information to debunk false rumours” but that misinformation was “the symptom and not necessarily the cause” of hesitancy among some of the public.
The trio addressed common questions posed by black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, including about the UK’s stringent approval measures, and addressed false information that has circulated on social media.
Biala said: “As someone that has previously worked with vaccines, I feel like I have a responsibility to help to increase confidence and trust in communities where there has been low take-up.
“It was important for me to hopefully educate people on the importance of vaccines and in particular the Covid-19 vaccine, helping to answer some questions they might have.”
Among adults aged 16 to 29 years, 17% reported hesitancy towards the vaccine, compared with 1% of adults aged 80 years and over, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.
The data also indicated less than half (49%) of black or black British adults said they were likely to have the vaccine.
Minister for Covid-19 vaccine deployment Nadhim Zahawi said: “Effective vaccines will not only protect people from coronavirus, they will save thousands of lives, and we want every eligible person to benefit from a free vaccination, regardless of their ethnicity or religious beliefs.
“The Government and the NHS are working hard to encourage people in all communities to come forward and accept the offer of a jab when it comes, and it’s great to have Yewande support these efforts to boost vaccine uptake among young people and those from minority ethnic groups.
“The vaccination programme will continue to expand over the coming weeks and we remain on track to meet our target of offering the vaccine to all adults by the end of July.”
Professor Fenton, regional director at Public Health England, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a devastating year which has touched every corner of our lives and the consequences have been felt deeply in Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities who have been disproportionately affected by the virus.
“The reasons for the health inequalities due to Covid-19 are complex but are linked to demographic, underlying health, geographical and socioeconomic factors, such as where you live or the occupation you’re in.
“It’s important we all take advantage of getting vaccinated so we are protected as we ease out of lockdown and re-emerge into society.”