WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House offered Wednesday to connect Nicki Minaj with one of the Biden administration’s doctors to address her questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, after the Trinidadian-born rapper’s erroneous tweet alleging the vaccine causes impotence went viral.
The White House said that they’ve offered such calls with others concerned about the vaccine, part of an aggressive public relations campaign to beat back rampant disinformation about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
Minaj tweeted Wednesday that “the White House has invited me” and “yes, I’m going,” but a White House official said the rapper was simply offered a call.
Minaj made headlines earlier this week when she noted in a tweet to her more than 22.6 million followers that the Met Gala required attendees to be vaccinated, and that she wouldn’t get the shot until “I feel I’ve done enough research.” She later issued a tweet sharing an unverified story about a cousin’s friend in Trinidad. Minaj asserted the unidentified individual “became impotent” and “his testicles became swollen” after receiving the shot.
Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File
FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2018, file photo, Nicki Minaj attends the Oscar de la Renta show during Fashion Week in New York.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, dismissed the claim as misinformation during an interview Tuesday on CNN.
“There’s no evidence that it happens, nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen,” he said.
Throughout the year, the White House has struggled to counteract resistance to getting a shot, particularly among younger and more Republican demographics. The administration has pointed in particular to false or misleading information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines as a driver of that hesitance. It has referenced a study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit that studies extremism, that linked a dozen accounts to spreading the majority of vaccine disinformation on Facebook.
The administration has sought out new ways to refute disinformation and reach young vaccine skeptics, earlier this year inviting teen pop star Olivia Rodrigo to the White House to show her support for the shot.
President Joe Biden has unveiled a new "action plan" plan to confront the COVID-19 surge that's being driven by the spread of the delta variant. It mandates vaccines for federal workers and contractors and certain health care workers, requires employees at companies with 100 or more workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly, lays the groundwork for a booster shot campaign and recommends that large venues require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. The plan also makes recommendations on keeping schools open.
Key parts of the plan:
- All federal workers and contractors must get vaccinated, with limited exceptions.
- Private employers with 100 or more workers will have to require them to be vaccinated or tested weekly. Employers must provide paid time off for vaccination.
- About 17 million health care workers in hospitals, clinics and other facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid payments must get vaccinated.
- Some 300,000 employees of Head Start early childhood education and other federal education programs must get vaccinated.
- Governors are urged to require vaccination for school district employees.
- The federal government will continue to follow through with money for widespread testing in schools.
- Stadiums, concert halls and other venues for large events are urged to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID test.
- Federal agencies will lay the groundwork for a smooth booster shot campaign, starting the week of Sep. 20 — if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes or approves the boosters.
- Mask requirements will continue for interstate travel and in federal buildings. The Transportation Security Administration will double fines on airline, train and other travelers who refuse to mask up.
- The number of pharmacies offering free testing will be expanded to 10,000.
- Walmart, Amazon and Kroger will offer at-home COVID tests at cost, about a 35% savings for consumers.
- The Pentagon will double military medical teams helping local hospitals overwhelmed with virus patients.
- Federal agencies will boost shipments of a COVID-19 treatment known as monoclonal antibodies by 50%. Medical teams will be dispatched to help administer the treatments.
- Top loan amounts for small businesses affected by the pandemic will be increased to $2 million from $500,000 currently.
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS