Main image: A still image from the video 'Why is the COVID-19 vaccine so safe?' with Michael Sheen's tweet, inset.
Hollywood star Michael Sheen has lent his voice to a new NHS animation created to combat anti- Covid vaccine sentiment.
News of the video comes just after the Welsh actor revealed on Twitter that he’s spent the last few weeks “laid low by Covid” in what he described as a “difficult and quite scary” experience.
Mr Sheen narrated the video before his recent illness.
It uses easy to follow visuals to show how vaccines work and provide protection safely.
He said: “Vaccination offers us a pathway out of this pandemic, so I was delighted to be able to play a part in this historic programme, which is the biggest roll out of vaccines ever carried out by the NHS.
“Many of us will have questions about how these new vaccines work, but it’s important we get our answers from trusted sources and this is where the Swansea Bay University Health Board animation comes in.
“Having experienced what this dreadful illness can do, I urge everyone to take a few minutes to watch this video and, if invited, to also take up the offer of vaccination straight away. I will certainly be having the vaccine when it’s my turn.”
The three-minute video titled ‘Why is the COVID-19 vaccine so safe?’ explains how scientists have used a small part of the Coronavirus’ genetic instructions to create a vaccine which allows your body’s immune system to recognise the virus and develop protection without having the pressure of a Covid-19 infection.
These genetic instructions stay separate from your DNA and cannot be combined. They are destroyed by your body after being used.
The video is the brainchild of Senior Medical Illustrator Steve Atherton who works in the health board’s Medical Illustration department.
His experience in producing materials which take complex medical procedures and science and explain them in a way patients will understand gave him an instinct that a video like this would be needed and he began working on it alongside colleague Gareth Buckley.
Steve said: “I’d heard a lot of negativity around the vaccine, mostly based on unscientific claims and scaremongering on social media.
“This was a project I initiated myself in my spare time. I researched the vaccines and how they’re made. I got in touch with Public Health Wales to sign off the script and got started.”
His hunch was correct as Consultant Renal Pharmacist Chris Brown soon approached him looking for solutions following reports of vaccine hesitancy amongst patients in other parts of the UK.
Chris said: “Charities approached our service to help address the questions and anxieties people had in deciding whether to have the vaccine.
“The Paul Popham Fund, Kidney Wales and Kidney Care UK held a virtual conference and, as part of that, we were asked 60 questions by people who wanted to make an informed decision.
“This animation was a great way of getting our messages across and providing the context to answering questions around vaccine safety and immunosuppression.
“It has had a real impact and resulted in a very high uptake of the vaccine.”
Joanne Popham, CEO of the Paul Popham Fund and Judith Stone, MD, Kidney Wales said: “The animation the Swansea team have created clearly explains what the virus and vaccine do and help to demonstrate to patients the safety of the vaccine.”
Steve himself initially narrated the animation, but he knew such an important message would have a much greater impact if it was delivered by Port Talbot son and BAFTA winner Michael Sheen.
Despite being very busy with work, Mr Sheen did not hesitate to agree to the voice over and recorded it himself in his own time for free.
The video is available on YouTube, see below.