- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 13, 2021

President Biden hopes pop singer Olivia Rodrigo will help him boost vaccination rates among young people who might not see COVID-1 as a threat and are holding back the government’s campaign for widespread immunity.

The actress and singer-songwriter whose debut album, “Sour,” hit No. 1 on the charts will visit the White House on Wednesday to meet with the president and Dr. Anthony Fauci. They will record videos about the importance of vaccination and answer questions that people have about the shots.

The meeting is part of broader efforts to tap into social media channels and hold YouTube town halls to reach younger cohorts. Dr. Fauci, who is 80, has generated web interest in vaccines through TikTok Q&As and other online events, according to a White House official.

“To build on this success, we are bringing multi-platinum recording artist Olivia Rodrigo to campus, one of the most popular singer/songwriters today, especially with young people,” the official said.

Administration officials say people younger than 27 are among the most reluctant to get immunized. Older groups snapped up the shots when they became eligible in the early months, though governors say young adults haven’t prioritized vaccination after COVID-19 mostly killed the elderly and frail.

Federal officials say young people need to do their part to break up community transmission and stave off a dreaded delta variant that is hospitalizing more and more younger adults. They also say it will ease the path for schools reopening in the fall.

Mr. Biden posted a photo of his younger self on Instagram to underscore the point.

“I know this young person would’ve gotten vaccinated, but we’ve got to get other young people protected as well. Who’s willing to help?” he wrote.

Officials say young people are only one piece of the hesitancy puzzle. Some people are reluctant to take up the vaccines because they are approved for emergency use and not fully licensed.

Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday it is only a matter of time before the Food and Drug Administration grants a full license to the vaccines in circulation.

Speaking to CNBC, Dr. Fauci said the data around the shots “are as good as it gets” and he would be “astounded” if regulators didn’t grant full approval.

“The efficacy or the effectiveness in the real world is unquestioned, so we’re going to get a full approval,” Dr. Fauci told “Squawk Box.” “It’s just going to take a little bit more time.”

Dr. Fauci and officials from the Biden and Trump administrations argue the FDA collected plenty of solid data and did a rigorous review before clearing them for emergency use.

“Even though we are still under an emergency use authorization, it’s a bit different than other emergency use authorizations, which usually are granted with not nearly as much positive data as we have for these products,” Dr. Fauci told CNBC.

Pfizer-BioNTech filed for a license in May, followed by Moderna in June. Both makers use messenger-RNA technology that uses a snippet of genetic information to teach the body to fight the virus.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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