The private event is part of the Biden administration's push to vaccinate younger Americans

By Virginia Chamlee
May 12, 2021 05:02 PM
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From left: Kamala Harris, Camila Cabello, Joe Jonas, Kim Kardashian
Credit: getty (4)

Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday hosted a virtual gathering of celebrities and influencers for a discussion on how best to reach the public with information about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The guest list included Camila Cabello, Kim Kardashian, Joe Jonas, model Karlie Kloss (who is married to Joshua Kushner, the brother of Jared Kushner), Lily Collins, Queer Eye fashion expert Tan France, and others. Kris Jenner, though not on the invite list, also made an appearance, according to a White House official.

Harris was joined by Dr. Marcella Nunez Smith, senior advisor to the administration's COVID-19 response team, for the event.

"I wanted to come together with you this afternoon to talk about where we are in terms of how we are dealing with the pandemic and I'm going to have some asks of you at the end," Harris, 56, said to kick off the event.

Kim Kardashian was the first to ask a question of the vice president, according to the White House, and was curious if you still need a vaccine if you have COVID antibodies. (People who have had COVID should still get vaccinated, but if they tested positive in the last 90 days, they should talk to their doctor about timing.)

Actress Lily Collins asked Harris about how best to facilitate and spread info about getting the vaccine.

Tan France asked Harris how she talked to the young people in her life about being vaccinated — not as the vice president, but as a stepmom and family member. France said he hoped to use that advice to speak to the young people in his own life.

Though the virtual event was closed to the press and general public, the White House told PEOPLE that those in attendance were able to "candidly discuss" how they could "build vaccine confidence, specifically for 18 to 29 year-old Americans."

That particular age group currently has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

The Biden administration is focused on increasing access through walk-in appointments at pharmacies and "on boosting confidence, and that's by spreading the word that the vaccine is safe," Harris said at the event. "There's still work that we need to do and I'm asking for your help to do it."

According to the official, Harris hoped to use the event on Wednesday to ask celebrities with broad and diverse audiences, particularly among young Americans, to amplify the message that every American should be vaccinated.

The vice president has in recent months been championing the COVID-19 public education campaign from the White House.

Harris got her first dose of the Moderna vaccine at Washington, D.C.'s United Medical Center in December, receiving her shot on live television weeks before taking office.

"That was easy," Harris said after receiving her shot. "Thank you. I barely felt it."

In remarks given to the press gathered at the medical center, Harris said she wanted to encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

"It is relatively painless, it happens really quickly, it is safe," Harris said.

She continued: "Literally, this is about saving lives. It's about saving lives. I trust the scientists. And it is the scientists who created and approved this vaccine. So I urge everyone: When it is your turn, get vaccinated. It's about saving your life, the life of your family members, and the life of your community."

She and her husband, Doug Emhoff, received their second doses of the vaccine in January, with the vice president again using the opportunity to urge others to get their shots.

Earlier this week, the administration announced that ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft will offer free rides to vaccination sites until July 4 as part of a new White House partnership, As part of Biden's goal to vaccinate 70% of U.S. adults with at least one shot by Independence Day.

According to a USA Today tracker, roughly 46% of U.S. adults have been at least partially vaccinated against coronavirus.