Can celebrities unite the world to get vaccinated?


‘Come and Get it’ singer Selena Gomez will be hosting an upcoming concert that encourages individuals to ‘go and get’ vaccinated.

Global Citizen announced that #VaxLive: The Concert to Reunite the World will feature performances by superstars such as Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Vedder, J Balvin and more.

Celebrities are uniting to demand equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution in hopes to return to normalcy and slow the spread of the virus.

Global Citizen is a non-profit organization that organizes large-scale campaigns to empower “global citizens” to take action and make a difference from all over the world.

With the #VaxLive concert, Global Citizen’s mission is to have everyone, everywhere vaccinated.

But, is celebrity endorsement enough to persuade people to get the shot?

Communication associate department chair at Loyola Marymount University Amy Bree Becker spoke on the influence celebrities can have on individuals.

“I don’t think it’s going to be necessarily the deciding factor for most people,” Becker said. “But I think that seeing celebrities that you like and identify with getting the vaccine adds another piece of evidence to the argument to get vaccinated.”

Becker said events like #VaxLive bring attention to the issue of whether or not an individual should get vaccinated, but is also “a positive public relations firm” for celebrities to get back to live concerts. “I think it’s another opportunity to share and engage with fans in an entertaining way, but also be promoting a prosocial message about vaccination,” she said.

David Schmid, an English professor at the University of Buffalo with expertise in pop culture said he felt skeptical about the #VaxLive celebrity endorsement.

The controversy between entertainment and what’s actually happening with the CDC is happening with the recent announcement of #VaxLive and “the pause” for the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine.

“Going back to the Johnson and Johnson suspension, that’s a big kind of blow to the public image of the vaccination campaigns,” Schmid said.

“I would sort of see these efforts by celebrities within that larger context that there is a kind of information war going on, so anything that can attract public positive publicity toward the cause of getting vaccinated has to be a good thing.”

In early March 2020, the internet was loaded with lists of concerts, tours and events being canceled. Now that restrictions are easing up, artists are yearning to be back on stage.

“Obviously, they’ve got a vested interest, so to speak, and encouraging people to get vaccinated,” said Schmid.

Schmid doesn’t deny that celebrities have an influence on their audiences, but when it has to do with vaccinations he said he’s “not sure” that the endorsement of a celebrity is going to make that big a difference.

“But, it’s certainly worth a try,” Schmid said. “And it’s certainly better than doing nothing.”

Some celebrities, like Lady Gaga, are not afraid to speak up on heavy topics like politics. In 2019, Gaga tweeted a video saying, “to Mike Pence, who thinks it’s acceptable that his wife work at a school that bans LGBTQ you are wrong.”

Although there are celebrities who are vocal about their beliefs, there are also celebrities who tend to lean into the “lighter” topics.

According to Becker, vaccination is categorized as “a less complicated issue.”

“I think we see it a lot with celebrities doing better with issues that are not that complicated or what we call easier political issues,” she said. “I think for this one getting a vaccine, is sort of a less complicated piece of the whole COVID puzzle,” she said.

Becker also said that celebrity culture is an effective way to get information out about the vaccine and reach individuals who “do not pay much attention” to the news.

Joliana Frausto, a USC Annenberg graduate student pursuing a Master’s in digital social media, has already been fully vaccinated. She said that celebrities do not change her opinion on vaccines.

“I feel like it might generate more awareness and maybe help make undecided people feel more confident in getting it. But, they’re not the number one source for me. I listen to the CDC,” Frausto said.

Miranda Virgen, USC graduate student pursuing a Master’s in public relations and advertising believes that celebrities need to be aware of their reach and be sincere in the causes that they support. “If they’re not sincere and they don’t really believe in it, it’ll come across as that. But they’re standing behind the vaccine and they’re saying we’re going to take it and we want you to do it, then I hope it does,” she said.

Virgen is unsure if celebrities will follow through when it comes to getting vaccinated. “I’m not sure if they will necessarily go get the vaccine themselves. I think it’s more of a personal choice, but it’s really important for celebrities like Selena Gomez to use their platforms,” she said.

The show will be pre-taped at the Los Angeles SoFi stadium, which will feature a large-scale vaccination center at the Hollywood-Park based venue. #VaxLive will air and start livestreaming on Saturday May 8th at 8pm EST on ABC, CBS, YouTube and the iHeartRadio App.

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