Coronavirus

White House teams up with Snapchat to encourage COVID vaccinations for young Americans

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: The Snapchat app logo is displayed on an iPad on August 3, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

 (CNN) — The White House this week is teaming up with Snapchat to encourage young Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Starting Wednesday, Snapchat users will be able to use an augmented reality lens that features President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Dr. Anthony Fauci and viral immunologist Kizzmekia Corbett answering questions about the vaccine.

“Hey folks, we have to get vaccinated. The new variants are affecting young people. Getting the vaccine’s going to prevent you from spreading it to your friends and to your family. Let’s end the COVID crisis once and for all, now,” Biden says during the augmented reality experience, first shared with CNN, which mimics a video call with the President.

The Snapchat experience also includes an augmented reality call from Harris, who shares a link to vaccines.gov — where Snapchat users can find their nearest vaccination sites — and lets users know that Uber and Lyft will provide free rides to vaccination sites, as well as information from Fauci, who tells Snapchat users that vaccinations will protect them from the current COVID-19 variants.

“A fully vaccinated person right now will be protected against the variants that are currently circulating in the country,” Fauci says.

The initiative comes as vaccine rates plateau after a steady drop in the last several weeks.

The United States has so far made significant progress in vaccinating adults. At least 25 states, plus Washington, DC, have fully vaccinated at least half of their adult residents, data published Sunday by the CDC shows.

But people 24 and younger are getting vaccine doses at much lower rates than their older counterparts, according to data from the CDC. Experts are turning their focus in the fight against COVID-19 to vaccinating young Americans, warning that even though they don’t face a high chance of serious illness, they still risk long-term symptoms if they get coronavirus.

The augmented reality experience launched Wednesday on Snapchat is the latest in a push from the White House to reach young Americans with information about COVID vaccinations, to help meet the administration’s goal of 70% of adults getting at least one coronavirus shot by July Fourth.

Earlier this week, the White House joined a group of YouTube creators for a virtual conversation to fight youth vaccine hesitancy, Yahoo News reported. And last week, the White House teamed up with a number of dating apps to offer incentives to customers who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“We are always focused on meeting people where they are and getting them the information they need to get vaccinated. We also know there are many young people on Snapchat, and this lens is another way President Biden and the administration are directly communicating with young people about how vaccines will protect them from this deadly virus and help our country take another steps towards getting 70% of America fully vaccinated by July 4,” White House Digital Director Rob Flaherty said in a statement to CNN.

According to Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, the app reaches 90% of young people ages 13-24 in the United States as well as 75% of the 13- to 34-year-old US population.

“We are honored to collaborate with the White House to build an augmented reality experience to offer Snapchatters the opportunity to hear directly from trusted leaders about common myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine,” Sofia Gross, head of policy partnerships and social impact at Snap Inc., said in a statement. “Given Snap’s ability to reach young people throughout the United States, we are working to help Snapchatters understand the role they play in their local communities and get one step closer to returning to the things they love.”

Biden and Fauci previously appeared with a COVID-focused message during the relaunch of the White House’s Snapchat account in February.

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