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A screenshot of former NBA stars Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley and former President Obama on the NBC special. Photo: NBC

Former President Obama and NBA greats Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal joined forces to urge communities of color and young people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 during an NBC special on inoculations, broadcast Sunday.

Why it matters: People of color have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Obama noted during the broadcast that with underlying, pre-existing health conditions being more prevalent in communities of color "we're more vulnerable" to the virus.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
"As the vaccine becomes more available, I want to make sure that our communities, particularly ones, African American, Latino, as well as young people understand that this will save lives and allow people to get their lives back to normal, and the sooner we get more people vaccinated, the better off we're gonna be."
— Obama

Zoom in: The former president also noted that a lot of young people think that if they get the coronavirus" it's going to be like a bad cold."

  • "Part of what we're seeing now is there's a different strain of the virus that’s come over," he added, in reference to B.1.1.7, the variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom.
  • "That's now the dominant variant, and it’s actually hitting young people harder than the original version."
"Part of the reason to get vaccinated is because it makes everybody safer. And it's the same reason why ... we don’t have things like polio anymore. Measles used to kill people all the time. The reason we don’t see that is because kids get the vaccine before they even go to school."
— Obama

Of note: During the NBC special, "Roll up your sleeves," President Biden noted that the U.S. was making "tremendous progress," but "we're still in the race against this virus, and we need to vaccinate tens of millions of more American."

  • And actor Matthew McConaughey asked Biden's chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, some "burning questions" on the pandemic:
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

Apr 17, 2021 - Health

Biden and Obamas to star in COVID vaccination TV special

Imags of President Biden and former President Obama on NBC's "Roll up your sleeves" special to boost vaccination rates. Photo: NBC

President Biden, former President Obama and Michelle Obama are joining a slew of stars for an NBC special this weekend that aims to raise awareness of COVID-19 vaccines, dispel myths and boost inoculation rates.

What to expect: In Sunday's "Roll Up Your Sleeves" special, hosted by NFL quarterback Russell Wilson and actor-singer Ciara, Biden will urge Americans to "beat the pandemic, protect loved ones and continue the road to recovery," according to a statement from NBC.

CDC: Half of U.S. adults have received one COVID-19 vaccine dose

Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Half of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and about a third are fully vaccinated, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are still on the rise, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said during Friday's White House COVID-19 briefing. With cases in many states being driven by variants, public health officials have emphasized the need to ramp up vaccinations.

Exclusive: White House pushing vaccine eligibility with media blitz

President Biden after announcing the new deadline for states to set vaccine eligibility. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House is launching a targeted media blitz Monday to promote President Biden’s new deadline for states to make all U.S. residents 16 and older eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, an administration official tells Axios.

Why it matters: Half of American adults have received their first vaccine dose, but vaccine hesitancy among the remaining population risks the country achieving herd immunity.