I hope we can all agree that “vaccine culture” is a bit depressing. The idea of wearing an evening gown to a COVID-19-vaccine appointment is objectively sad, and speaking from personal experience, taking an hour-long bus ride to a CVS at the dead center of Staten Island, New York, for medical treatment is not fun or exciting except by dramatic contrast to events prior.
And when vaccine culture isn’t dismal, it can get extremely weird. At the moment, the internet is full of jokes about all the things you still can’t do after you’ve gotten vaccinated—like taking my hand and dragging me headfirst, which is part of a Taylor Swift song from 2008; removing the green ribbon from around your neck, a reference to a disturbing children’s story in which a woman named Jenny does that and then her head falls off; or emerging “from the soil after 17 years to shed your outer cuticular layer & scream into the ether in unison,” which is a subtweet of cicadas. I’m laughing, but what are we talking about?
Weirder still, one vaccine in particular—from Pfizer—has somehow become the cool vaccine, as well as the vaccine for the rich and stylish. Slate’s Heather Schwedel recently discussed the “Pfizer superiority complex” at length. As one source told her: “One of my cousins got Moderna, and I was like, ‘That’s OK. We need a strong middle class.’” On Twitter, the vaccinated are changing their usernames to reflect their new personal identities: There are Pfizer Princesses and Pfizer Floozies and Pfizer Pfairies and at least one Portrait of a Lady on Pfizer. “Pfizer is what was available when I signed up,” Jagger Blaec, a 33-year-old podcast host told me, “but it’s no coincidence every baddie I know has Pfizer and not Moderna.” Isn’t it a coincidence, though?