It didn’t happen unless you ‘grammed it. Millions of people have received at least their first COVID-19 vaccination and, to prove it, they’ve posted about it on social media.
In November, feeds were full of people of all ages posing with their “I voted” stickers, broadcasting to their followers that they had done their civic duty and voted for the next president of the United States. Now, after living a year in lockdown, people are proud to boast to their friends that they believe in science and are ready to return to life before a pandemic.
Dr. Lynora M. Saxinger, an infectious diseases doctor and cochair of COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Group, says that while some people may view vaccine selfies as boasting when others haven’t had the chance to get theirs, the snaps actually help normalize getting a vaccine, which is important.
“There’s evidence that normalizing vaccines can help convince people that are uncertain that it’s safe,” she says.
People may be hesitant to get a vaccine because of the proliferation of misinformation, which often spreads with the help of celebrity skeptics. Other celebrities, like Dolly Parton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, have used their clout to advocate for vaccination, posting photos and videos of themselves receiving their shots.
On TikTok, young users are excited about their chance at a shot in the arm. They often make jokes about doing their hair and getting dressed up for the first time in a year just so they’ll look nice for their vaccine selfies.
“What’s up, TikTok,” one user says in her video. “Today I’m going to show you some outfits that you can wear when you get your COVID-19 vaccine.” The video shows three different looks, including a sweater with a cold shoulder, which gives perfect access for a needle in the arm.
And some vaccine sites actually encourage the whole thing by having selfie stations set up. It’s the 2021 step and repeat: get a shot, walk a few steps, and pose for a photo. Congrats, you’re vaccinated and proud.
“The vaccine selfie station really does go to the idea of normalizing this process,” Saxinger says. “And I think it’s really important for people to frame it not in a sense of I can now do something that you might not be able to do, but it’s really more framing it as we’re all increasing the number of vaccinated. We’re all getting safer with every person that gets their vaccine. I think that’s a good framing to keep in mind with the idea of selfie stations and things like that.”
Chantal Espinoza, a social media marketer from Texas whose had her first shot, believes vaccine selfies are important.
“It encourages people to get vaccinated, which is the point,” she says. “And we live in a culture where we’re influenced by our friends and by influencers and having your close friends or acquaintances show that they’re getting the vaccine, I think that’s important because it influences people to get it or seek it out or talk to their parents to get it.”
Saxinger says people shouldn’t be hesitant to post their vaccine selfies. Even if you’re unsure if you’re getting yours before someone else, it’s important just to keep the process moving. The more people who are vaccinated, the safer society as a whole becomes.
As for Espinoza, she says getting a vaccine and posting about it shouldn’t be controversial.
“I just think that they’re doing what they should be doing,” she says. “The same way with the I Voted sticker. That’s your responsibility as an American citizen. And if you’re able to vote, you should vote. And if you’re able to get the vaccine, you should get the vaccine. It just shows everyone that you take this thing seriously.”