Former First Lady Michelle Obama has a message for all Americans: we need to protect each other, and she's taking the lead. She shared this sentiment alongside a photo of herself receiving her COVID-19 vaccination on Thursday. "When you can get the COVID-19 vaccine, I hope you do," Obama wrote on Twitter and Instagram. "It's our best shot at beating this virus, looking out for one another, and getting back to some of the things we miss. Getting vaccinated will save lives—and that life could be yours."
The photo of the former first lady was included in a new vaccination ad campaign, which included all living former presidents and former first ladies — with the exception of the Trump family — urging Americans to get vaccinated when they can. The ad is an effort to combat vaccine skepticism as we come up on the one-year anniversary of the novel coronavirus pandemic. In the last year, more than half a million Americans have died as a result of the federal government's mishandling of the pandemic.
Apart from her charismatic message, the image of Obama — in her casual headband, white t-shirt, and hoop earrings — was worthy of recognition. "Michelle must be protected at all costs," one person commented. Others commented on the former first lady's continued leadership on public health issues, despite leaving the White House more than four years ago. "Thank you @MichelleObama, for continuing to show leadership," one person wrote. "I thank you for continuing to be a role model. Seeing you get the vaccine publicly will change many minds regarding its safety," wrote another.
While former U.S. leaders hope to show unity in their efforts to encourage people nationwide to get the vaccine, it is imperative to remember the ways in which the virus has disproportionately impacted marginalized communities, and vaccination efforts have been simultaneously inequitable. Over the last year, Black and brown communities have seen higher rates of COVID infection and less access to testing services, with vaccination sites often inaccessible, as well.
Michelle Obama has been among those leading voices trying to change that, and her efforts — and candor — are certainly impactful. The more people who sign up to get vaccinated, the more likely we all are to keep ourselves and each other safe, while also working toward herd immunity. That's her real message here: getting vaccinated really is our best shot at caring for each other.