It takes less than a minute on any social media platform to see a post of someone smiling with their new COVID-19 vaccine card. Finally, the finish line of the COVID-19 pandemic, although still in the distance, is within sight.
Now that every American over the age of 16 is able to get the vaccine, social media has erupted with commentary on vaccination and the different types of vaccines. The social media trends around vaccination serve to both spread awareness of and bring humor to a serious topic.
Twitter’s most recent viral trend parodies the type of language commonly used in tweets warning about the end of the pandemic. The tweets start, “Being vaccinated does NOT mean …” only to go on and reference a piece of pop culture as opposed to an actual safety measure.
Favorites include a tweet from @SparkNotes: “Being vaccinated does NOT mean you can host an extravagant party at your West Egg mansion that symbolizes the superficiality and moral corruption of the rich.” The @SparkNotes Twitter account has been known for connecting creative references about modern cultural events to classic literature. Twitter user @LaurenPokedoff wrote, “Being vaccinated does NOT mean you can invite three men who you believe might be your father to your destination wedding in Greece without telling anyone.” This tweet is a reference to the plot of the iconic film “Mamma Mia!”
The “Being vaccinated does NOT mean” trend serves as a reminder that being vaccinated is, indeed, not an invitation to drop all social distancing precautions. By connecting this message to iconic cultural references, the trend evokes a sense of nostalgia and encourages readers to get in on the joke by getting vaccinated.
Many social media users have joked about feeling a sense of allegiance to their specific vaccine. TikTok creator @idrinkurmilkshake says, “Only hot people get the Pfizer vaccine,” and that “if you got Moderna, I don’t know what to tell you, queen.” Jokes like these encourage vaccination and prompt a funny feigned vaccine rivalry among the recipients of different vaccines. The trend makes people want to get in on the “trash talk,” promoting vaccination in a lighthearted way.
Even some politicians have hopped onto the vaccine-comedy bandwagon in order to spread vaccine awareness. Georgetown graduate Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) (SFS ’09) posted a TikTok video April 24 to inform viewers that the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are now available to all.
In the video, Ossoff lip syncs to a trending audio from TikTok user @snarkymarky that parodies a woman calling her friends, Candace and Martina, for a girls’ night out. Instead of ladies going out, Ossoff captions the video to represent Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson all getting ready to “hit the road” for a night on the town. The video received over 2.3 million views, demonstrating that comedic videos can help spread awareness about vaccinations.
As the number of vaccinated individuals increases, the United States now navigates concerns of continuing the high rate of vaccination amid some hesitancy. Events such as the temporary hold of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have increased anxieties held by some Americans debating whether or not to get the vaccine. Although millions of people have safely received the vaccine and it has been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hesitancy still pervades some communities.
Social media campaigns that inject humor into the serious topic of vaccination help to dispel misinformation and anxieties about COVID-19 vaccines. As we make our way out of this pandemic, comedy is a helpful tool to bring some levity to the dark last year.
Being vaccinated does not mean we can rush back into normal life, but it does mean we can approach this phase of the pandemic with some humor.