- Celebrities getting the COVID-19 vaccine are doing the right thing by posting about it online.
- Publicly backing the safe and effective doses could make a difference amid the pandemic.
- Celebrities have large followings, and setting the right example is the least they can do to help.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Joe Biden’s administration recently announced that it’s launching a new campaign to promote COVID-19 vaccinations, and it underscores the influence of well-known figures among their fans.
The campaign, called “We Can Do This,” is partnering with celebrities, athletic organizations like the MLB, religious leaders, and community health organizations to communicate the safety and efficacy of the nation’s three authorized vaccines, according to the Associated Press.
Biden’s administration seems to have recognized that each famous face pictured in a post-COVID-shot selfie could be reaching thousands of devoted fans in the touch of the “post” button on Instagram — and that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Separate from the campaign, several stars, including Oprah Winfrey, Ryan Reynolds, comedian Amy Schumer, Jeff Goldblum, and Martha Stewart have proudly documented or talked about getting the vaccine on their personal platforms.
A post shared by Jeff Goldblum (@jeffgoldblum)
Mariah Carey said in an Instagram video that she was initially “a little nervous” to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but was more “excited.” It’s a combination of feelings that’s likely relatable to people who feel inclined to look away from the needle but are eager to hug their friends and family, travel safely, and reap the protections and benefits of being fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“Encouraging you guys to do it when you can,” the singer said after the shot.
A post shared by Mariah Carey (@mariahcarey)
Dolly Parton, who has been fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine — which she helped fund the development of with a $1 million donation in 2020 — urged people to get the shot with a tweaked version of her song “Jolene,” which went like this: “Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine / I’m begging of you please, don’t hesitate.”
—Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) March 2, 2021
More than 165 million vaccine doses have been administered in the US as of Sunday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more states around the nation are currently allowing or will soon let people ages 16 and older make appointments.
But as vaccine skepticism continues to threaten the bright future of a post-pandemic society, celebrity vaccine selfies and videos aren’t just endearing — it’s possible that they could have a real impact.
In the past, celebrities have used their influence to promote health campaigns
Elvis Presley famously set a precedent for celebrities taking on health activism when he received the polio vaccine live on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1956.
The vaccine was made available in the US the year prior, and the rock-and-roll icon’s appearance was meant to encourage vaccination among teenagers.
Presley’s vaccination TV spot may have had a domino effect, as young Americans then formed a group called Teens Against Polio, as researchers Michelle O’Shea, Patrick van Esch, and Sarah Duffy said in The Conversation.
The youth-led organization started its own outreach campaign, hosting events like dances where vaccination was a requirement to attend — and it was a success in boosting vaccination rates, the researchers wrote.
Posting vaccine selfies is the least celebrities can be doing to help
Today’s vaccine campaign might not have an Elvis, but it does have the power of Instagram.
Even if they’re not the ones being called on by a national health campaign, today’s pop-culture icons with large followings have a responsibility in times of crisis to set a positive example — and that goes beyond writing a check, as Insider’s Claudia Willen previously wrote.
Paul Offit, co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine and author of “Bad Advice: Or Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information,” previously told Insider that celebrities can also make an impact by partnering with health experts and scientists to spread facts.
“Scientists are always translating in their head when they deal with the public from the jargon that is their profession to what they think people can understand. The celebrity, in many ways, can do that better,” Offit said.
Health historians Agnes Arnold-Forster and Caitjan Gainty wrote in The Conversation that celebrity influence over fans or supporters isn’t always straightforward, especially when it comes to celebrity-endorsed health campaigns.
Arnold-Forster and Gainty also pointed that skeptics of the COVID-19 vaccine could have many reasons for not wanting to make an appointment — a fact that’s highlighted by a mid-February study from the Pew Research Center.
The results from the Pew survey show that attitudes among US adults on COVID-19 vaccination have become more positive since the onset of the pandemic, but 30% of US adults still said they weren’t planning on getting a vaccine.
Respondents listed various concerns for not wanting the vaccine, with the most common being worries about side effects, a “sense that vaccines were developed and tested too quickly,” and a desire for more information about the vaccines’ efficacies.
Though not mentioned in the Pew survey, false conspiracy theories surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine have exacerbated skeptics’ baseless concerns about the vaccines. False anti-vaxx claims promoted by celebrities and influencers are difficult to contain after they spread rapidly online, even when they’ve been debunked by experts.
For people on the fence about getting vaccinated who refuse to consider information from government entities or public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, maybe — just maybe — they’ll open their minds if a celebrity chef whose recipes fill their kitchen cabinets or the star behind their favorite music gets the shot, too.
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