NYT: White House Forms ‘Influencer Army’ to Convince Young People to Get Vaccinated

TikTok Influencer Christina Najjar
Emma McIntyre/Getty

A recent report from the New York Times states that the federal government is using an “influencer army” to promote pro-vaccine campaigns aimed at America’s youth.

The New York Times reports in an article titled “To Fight Vaccine Lies, Authorities Recruit an ‘Influencer Army,'” that the White House has recruited popular TikTok stars to promote its pro-vaccine campaign. Some local states have reportedly begun paying “local micro influencers” to take part in similar initiatives.

The NYT reports that according to the CDC, less than half of all Americans aged between 18 and 39 are fully vaccinated, while more than two-thirds of those over 50 have received both jabs. Around 58 percent of Americans aged between 12 and 17 have yet to receive any form of vaccination.

The White House is now targeting young Americans by recruiting an army of influencers. The roster of online personalities includes 50 Twitch streamers, YouTubers, TikTokers, and the extremely popular 18-year-old pop star Olivia Rodrigo. Following the White House’s lead, multiple states and other governmental agencies have begun similar campaigns, even paying “local micro-influencers” with follower counts between 5,000 and 100,000 up to $1,000 a month to promote coronavirus vaccines to their fans.

Christina Najjar, a TikTok star known as Tinx, even conducted a Q&A video with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In the video, Najjar asks Fauci a number of lighthearted questions about what to watch out for during “happy vaxx girl summer.” Najjar called the session “a great time,” adding, “I think I flirted with Dr. Fauci, but in a respectful way.”

A 2018 study by the marketing agency MuseFind states that young people are more likely to trust the advice of their favorite online content creators than a mainstream celebrity such as an actor, late-night talk show host, or cable channel pundit. Jason Harris, chief executive of the advertising agency Mekanism, commented due to this “we need to get an influencer army to push the pro-vaccine message out there.” He added: “That’s the only way we’re going to have loud enough voices on social to drown out all the misinfo that’s happening.”

Rob Flaherty, White House director of digital strategy, said that he and other White House staff, worked alongside Village Marketing and Made to Save, which is a national campaign focusing on promoting access to coronavirus vaccines. In June, multiple “off-the-record” briefings over Zoom were held with online creators, allowing them to ask questions about the vaccines and how they worked.

Since then, the influencer marketing campaign has ramped up significantly, with Olivia Rodrigo even visiting the White House where she urged people to “actually get to a vaccination site.”

In July, Breitbart News reported that students at certain universities could become paid coronavirus vaccines “influencers,” through the Student Social Media Engagement campaign. Universities across the U.S. partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College Health Association (ACHA), and Youth Marketing Connection (YMC) to develop the initiative. Read more at Breitbart News here.

Read more about the White House “influencer army” at the New York Times here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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