120,000 vaccine appointments booked before 9am as stars join forces with NHS to boost vaccine uptake

An all star line up has joined forces with the NHS to encourage people to come forward and get the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine when they are invited in a short film released today.

The booster video is released as the NHS has revealed that more than 120,000 appointments for the jab were made yesterday (Friday) before 9am as bookings opened up to people aged 40 and 41 years old.

The flood of new bookings followed the third new group of people being invited to come forward just this week, with everyone aged 40 and over now eligible to get a slot.

Sir Lenny Henry, Liz Hurley and David Walliams join TV actors Lydia West and Navin Chowdhry to dispel myths around vaccination to boost uptake of the NHS COVID jab.

The film is the second commissioned by Professor Lord Ara Darzi, the leading doctor who is the Co-Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation, part of the Imperial REACT COVID Surveillance Study Group and volunteered on COVID wards at the height of the pandemic.

It comes as the NHS COVID vaccination programme announced that more than nine in ten people aged over 45 have receiving at least one dose.

Two-thirds of the adult population in England have received their first dose, and more than a quarter have been fully vaccinated.

The first light-hearted film showed Sir Michael Caine and Sir Elton John going head-to-head in an audition for a COVID information film.

The new film also shows stars ‘auditioning’ as they tackle common rumours and misconceptions around the COVID vaccine and encourage everyone to get jabbed when it is their turn.

It opens with Sir Lenny Henry saying: “People in the black, Asian, ethnic and minority community are 20% less likely to take up the vaccine.”

Lydia West, of drama It’s a Sin, which gripped the nation earlier this year, goes on to address some common concerns which may prevent people from having the vaccine such as: “it doesn’t contain pork, or any material of animal origin” and “there is no evidence that it effects fertility”.

Doctor Foster actor Navin Chowdhry adds that: “There is no scientific evidence to say that the vaccine is any less effective in people from ethnic and minority backgrounds.”

Later in the video, David Walliams calls on everyone to get vaccinated “it’s really important that people of all ages get the jab”.

Liz Hurley urges people to “roll-up your sleeve, it’s not just your own life you’ll be saving” and as the audition-style video draws to a close, Sir Elton John who makes his second cameo in an NHS video, is told “you didn’t get it last time, you’re not getting it this time” as we see the singer take up his offer of a jab.

The comedy video builds on NHS action already taken to increase uptake, including campaigns supported by Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain and reaching communities with pop-up clinics in places of worship, which has seen uptake more than triple among ethnic minority groups since February, outpacing the national average.

Lydia West said: “It’s a frightening time for everyone right now, with people scared about getting COVID, worrying about the future and fearing for their loved ones. So, it’s understandable that people might be worried about vaccines too. But I hope that through this campaign, we can show people that getting vaccinated is not something to be scared of.”

GP and NHS national medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani, thanked stars for their support. Dr Nikki Kanani said: “Our drive to increase uptake is continuing and this backing from such an incredible line up of stars will go a long way in helping us reassure communities that the vaccine is safe, simple and effective. We are very grateful for this wonderful support.

“Since setting out our action plan to boost uptake in February, we have made significant progress in increasing uptake among all ethnic minorities, including Black British communities, where the increase has actually outpaced the overall rise.”

Professor Lord Darzi said: “Vaccines offer us the best chance of returning to normal life, and we are very fortunate to have a growing number of highly safe and effective vaccines that are already being shown to cut deaths and hospitalisations from the virus.

“But we know that some people, particularly younger generations and ethnic minorities, have worries that may stop them from taking the vaccine when offered. We must listen to the concerns people are voicing and with this campaign we hope to offer reassurance and show how important it is to get vaccinated, so that we can bring closer the end to this devastating pandemic.”

Doctors, nurses and other health care professionals are delivering the life-saving jab at more than 1,600 sites ranging from cathedrals, mosques and temples to racecourses, sports stadiums, cinemas and museums.

The NHS made history when 90-year-old Maggie Keenan was the first recipient in the world outside a clinical trial of a Pfizer vaccine at Coventry Hospital on 8 December 2020.