Singer, actress, and Gen-Z icon Olivia Rodrigo made a special appearance at a White House Briefing on Wednesday to encourage America’s youth to get their vaccines. 

The 18-year-old chart-topper took the world by storm with her 2021 debut album Sour, which was released following her starring role on the Disney+ show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Hits from the album such as “Good 4 U” and “Deja Vu” continue to top the Billboard charts, two months after their release. 

Now, the breakout star is the latest celebrity using their platform to urge Americans, and particularly young people, to get vaccinated. The call comes at a time when US infection rates are on the rise again and the Delta variant continues to spread across the nation, as well as globally. 

“I am beyond honored and humbled to be here today to help spread the message about the importance of youth vaccination,” said Rodrigo at the White House briefing.  

The singer-songwriter went on to express her admiration for COVID-19 efforts led by President Joe Biden and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The global rate of COVID-19 vaccinations continues to rise with 3.54 billion doses administered to date; and with Canada, the United Kingdom, and Israel having seen the highest vaccination rates. According to the latest data from the Mayo Clinic, 55.8% of people in the US have received at least one dose, while 48.3% of the population is fully vaccinated. 

For young adults and children in the US, however, the number of administered doses is lower than other age groups. Only 41.8% of adults ages 18 to 24 are fully vaccinated and the numbers fall dramatically with age, with 10.2% of children under the age of 18 fully vaccinated. The low rate of children being vaccinated is also due to vaccines not yet being given to those under 12.

Although nearly half of the US population is fully vaccinated, COVID-19 infections rates are rising again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Wednesday that the 7-day average of daily new cases is up 66% from last week. Data from the CDC suggests that the Delta variant makes up more than half of COVID-19 cases in the US, with higher variant infections in areas where fewer people are getting vaccinated. 

Rodrigo’s visit to the White House was part of a campaign to encourage more young people to get their COVID-19 vaccines.

But as well as encouraging those with the opportunity to get vaccinated to go and get them, to really tackle the pandemic it’s essential that all people, everywhere in the world, can access a vaccine. 

Due to a lack of funding, resources, and patent restrictions, only 1% of people in developing nations have so far received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Our World in Data. That means many health workers and older people, as well as other vulnerable groups, are being left unprotected. 

For countries without access to COVID-19 immunization this means continued higher rates of infections and death — as well as the continuation of all the impacts of COVID-19, across food security, loss of income, and more. For countries with access to vaccines, the continued spread of COVID-19 globally increases the risk that a vaccine-resistant variant could emerge.

At the briefing, Rodrigo stressed the importance of getting vaccinated and advocating to those around you to get vaccinated as well. 

“It’s important to have conversations with friends and family members, encouraging all communities to get vaccinated,” Rodrigo said addressing the nation. She also urged Americans to “actually get to a vaccination site, which you can do more easily than ever before, given how many sites we have and how easy it is to find them at”

Rodrigo took to Instagram and Twitter to spread the message too. Accompanying a photo of her beside President Biden she wrote to her 14.5 million Instagram followers: “Even if you are young and not immunocompromised, getting your COVID-19 vaccination is the best thing you can do for your health and your loved ones’ health. YOU have the power to save lives.”

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Olivia Rodrigo Wants You to Get Vaccinated

By Kate Nakamura