Now that all Americans older than 16 are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, former President Barack Obama wants to make sure they get them.
Obama, who’s been a leading voice against vaccine hesitancy, teamed with Yahoo News for a public service announcement posted to the outlet’s TikTok account on Friday.
In it, Obama touts the safety and efficacy of vaccines by explaining he and his wife Michelle have already been vaccinated.
"It’s safe. It’s effective. It’s free. I got one. Michelle got one. And you can get one too," Obama said on Tik Tok, a social media platform that’s popular with Generation Z. "It’s the only way we’re going to get back to all the things we love — from safely spending time with grandparents, to going to concerts and watching live sports."
Obama had previously teamed up with former presidents Clinton, Bush and Carter for a PSA showing them receiving their vaccines. But as vaccine eligibility expanded in April, Obama shifted his message to meet the next wave of recipients on their platform of choice.
According to the Associated Press, Obama is credited with being among the first politicians to harness the influence social media provides. Using it for a PSA is a move familiar to those who witnessed his social media presence propel him from the U.S. Senate to the White House in 2008.
As of May 1, more than 101 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s roughly a third of the population.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the opening of the Bits & Pretzels meetup on Sept. 29, 2019, in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images)
More than 37 million of the inoculated are older than 65, which has been crucial to America’s pandemic recovery. Elderly patients were far more vulnerable to severe illness, hospitalizations and death.
But now studies have shown COVID variants put younger people at higher risk of severe illnesses and hospitalizations.
A STAT-Harris Poll conducted in March found that more than half (52%) of Americans between 18 and 24 years old have either already gotten a vaccine or plan to do so when it’s available.
But the remaining 47% presented a troubling trend in America’s race to herd immunity.
Fifteen percent said they would not accept a vaccine, 9% said they’d get one when they get around to it and 23% said they’d wait a while and see.
This story was reported from Atlanta.