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Singer Olivia Rodrigo emphasizes ‘the importance of youth vaccination’ at the White House amid rise in coronavirus cases

Actress and musician Olivia Rodrigo talked about the importance of vaccinations for young people at the White House briefing on July 14. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

Singer Olivia Rodrigo visited the White House briefing room, where she urged Americans to speak with their loved ones about the importance of getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Rodrigo’s appearance Wednesday comes amid a recent rise in coronavirus cases in the United States, and as some Republicans have pushed back against vaccinating teenagers.

“I want to say I am beyond honored and humbled to be here today to help spread the message about the importance of youth vaccination,” Rodrigo said as she stood at the lectern in the White House briefing room after being introduced by press secretary Jen Psaki.

“I’m in awe of the work President Biden and Dr. [Anthony S.] Fauci have done, and was happy to help lend my support to this important initiative,” Rodrigo added. “It’s important to have conversations with friends and family members, encouraging all communities to get vaccinated and actually get to a vaccination site, which you can do more easily than ever before, given how many sites we have and how easy it is to find them at”

Later Wednesday, the 18-year-old actress and singer is expected to meet with Biden and Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, and will record videos meant to encourage young people to get their coronavirus shots.

More than 55 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency reports that 50.5 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, 45.5 percent of 16- to 17-year-olds, and 33.5 percent of 12- to 15-year-olds have gotten at least one dose.

In remarks from the White House this month, Biden made a direct plea to younger people and warned about the danger of remaining unvaccinated, citing the swiftly spreading delta variant. In some states, however, Republicans lawmakers have opposed efforts to vaccinate young people.

This week, Tennessee’s top immunization official said she was fired in retaliation for her attempts to let teenagers choose whether to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Michelle Fiscus said she was fired from her job as director of immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health on Monday afternoon as retaliation for the department’s efforts to vaccinate teenagers against the coronavirus, a plan that angered several state lawmakers.

The Tennessean reported Tuesday that the department would stop promoting all vaccinations for children and that it would stop sending reminders for teens to get their second dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Paulina Villegas contributed to this report.