Tik Tok and social media influencers join White House campaign to soften vaccine hesitancy

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Credit: Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast
Credit: Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Fewer than half of all Americans age 18 to 39 are fully vaccinated, compared with more than two-thirds of those over 50, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And about 58 percent of those age 12 through 17 have yet to receive a shot at all.

To reach these young people, the White House has enlisted an eclectic army of more than 50 Twitch streamers, YouTubers, TikTokers and the 18-year-old pop star Olivia Rodrigo, all of them with enormous online audiences. State and local governments have begun similar campaigns, in some cases paying “local micro influencers” — those with 5,000 to 100,000 followers — up to $1,000 a month to promote Covid-19 vaccines to their fans.

The efforts are in part a counterattack against a rising tide of vaccine misinformation that has flooded the internet, where anti-vaccine activists can be so vociferous that some young creators say they have chosen to remain silent on vaccines to avoid a politicized backlash.

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“I didn’t worry about the backlash,” said Christina Najjar, 30, a TikTok star known online as Tinx. “Helping spread the word about the importance of getting vaccinated was the right thing to do.”

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