Biden and Obama urge Americans to get vaccinated in star-studded television special
(CNN) -- President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama joined a slate of celebrities Sunday evening in urging Americans to get vaccinated during an hour-long NBC special aimed at boosting confidence in the shots and raising awareness about eligibility.
The event, titled "Roll Up Your Sleeves" and hosted by singer Ciara and her NFL quarterback husband, Russell Wilson, saw Biden pitch vaccinations as "the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from Covid-19, including the new variants we're seeing."
"If you've been fully vaccinated, thank you," the President said. "If you're planning to get vaccinated, make sure you follow through. Please."
The television special comes the night before all Americans 16 years and older will be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine. An administration official told CNN the White House is launching a media blitz Monday to raise awareness about Americans' vaccine eligibility.
Part of their outreach will target specific constituencies, including Black, Latino and rural communities, through interviews with outlets such as the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, Telemundo and All Ag News. There will also be a series of national media hits featuring doctors.
It comes as concerns around access and vaccine hesitancy loom large over the US coronavirus response.
Though roughly 25.4% of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, experts estimate somewhere between 70-85% of the country needs to be immune to the virus -- either through inoculation or previous infection -- to suppress its spread.
Appearing alongside former NBA stars Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal during the special, Obama said, "I want to make sure our communities -- particularly ones ... African American, Latino, as well as young people -- understand that this will save lives and allow people to get their lives back to normal. And the sooner we get more people vaccinated, the better off we're going to be."
Barkley responded by noting how excited he is to get his second vaccine dose, saying, it's "important for us to keep talking about the vaccine."
"So I'm telling all my friends," he continued. "Yo, man. Forget what happened back in the day. Every Black person, please go out and get vaccinated."
In another part of the special, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, spoke with actor Matthew McConaughey about the stringent safety protocols that were followed as the vaccines were developed.
"It wasn't cutting corners. It wasn't sacrificing safety. It was merely a reflection of the extraordinary science," Fauci said of the speed with which the vaccines were developed.
The common enemy, Fauci continued, "is the virus. Not each other. So the thing to do is put aside any kind of political differences, any kind of hostility you have and figure we have to pull together if we really want to get through this."
The special also featured cameos from former first lady Michelle Obama and a whole list of celebrities, including Sterling K. Brown, Lana Condor, Billy Crystal, Eric Dane, Ryan Eggold, Dr. Vin Gupta, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Dale Jarrett, Ken Jeong, Joe Jonas, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Joel McHale, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kumail Nanjiani, Ellen Pompeo, Amanda Seyfried, Jane Seymour and Wanda Sykes.
"Now is the time to take care of ourselves and each other so we can get back to normal," Biden said in concluding his remarks.
"We can do this. We will do this. But don't let up now."
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