Former President Barack Obama and current President Joe Biden are slated to appear in a television special this weekend advocating for COVID-19 vaccines. The special, which will run for an hour and air on NBC, “comes as the Biden administration races to get shots in arms and combat vaccine hesitancy,” as CNN put it. As of this Wednesday, a tracker from The New York Times reported that 23 percent of Americans had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 37 percent of Americans had received at least one shot (two of the three major vaccines in the U.S. are administered in two-dose regimens).
According to CNN, Biden will “make remarks” during the upcoming television special, while former President Obama will “appear alongside former NBA stars Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal to encourage Americans to get vaccinated so they can help end the pandemic and return to their normal lives.” The special will also feature comments from a host of other big names, from Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health to actors like Billy Crystal to former First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Obamas have already participated in other efforts to promote vaccinations among Americans. With former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter alongside former First Ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Rosalynn Carter, the Obamas helped push vaccinations with an ad campaign from the Ad Council that showed all the participating former presidents and First Ladies receiving shots. Neither former President Trump nor former First Lady Melania Trump participated in the ad campaign, and when they both received vaccines earlier this year, neither of them publicized the moves.
Going forward, the Biden administration has designated nearly $10 billion “toward increasing vaccine access and confidence in hard-hit communities across the country, which includes $3 billion of CDC funding to support outreach efforts in the states through community-based organizations and trusted community leaders,” in the description of CNN.
Polling has repeatedly shown high levels of hesitancy towards the vaccine among white Republicans — in an early March survey, over half of Republicans said that they were “unsure” about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Still, a more recent Gallup survey revealed that 68 percent of members of the public were satisfied with the vaccine roll-out process in the U.S. In the same survey, 74 percent of Americans indicated that they’d be ready to get vaccinated right away, if vaccines were immediately available.