It wasn't inane enough that getting a common and generally routine medical procedure was being treated as a status symbol. No, in America we do things big.
So naturally we've developed a status hierarchy among individual vaccines.
The Hot-Person Vaccine
The internet has decided that Pfizer is significantly cooler than Moderna—but why?
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?
I'm trying to imagine a life so devoid of meaning that this would be important to me. I'd have to empty it of family, friends, neighbors, neighbors' dogs, the guy at the coffee shop, the guy at the coffee shop's dog...
I'd have to vacate it of anything that remotely resembled a personal connection to another living thing, including house plants.
And I think I'm still coming up short of needing to find personal fulfillment in co-branding myself with a multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical company.
Oh, right. I forgot about Joy "I joined team Pfizer" Reid
Of course, it could be I'm just jealous that I got the "middle-class" vaccine.
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.'"
I can't believe the people at the clinic didn't warn me, although now I know why they made me put on a second mask even though they were all certainly themselves Pfizer-vaccinated, the showoffs:
They wanted to allow me to preserve some shred of dignity by covering my face up as much as possible.
It could have been worse. A lot worse.
Certainly some TikTok clips are more explicit than others about the "winners and losers," and what having a "rich" vaccine really means. One video in my feed, soundtracked by Nicki Minaj rapping about a "bum-a$$" person who can't afford their rent, posited that there is no rivalry between Moderna and Pfizer—rather, "it's us vs. Johnson & Johnson."
Yep, Johnson & Johnson. The vaccine of vagrants.
The CDC reported last week that many public-health departments have been using Johnson & Johnson specifically for homeless people, as well as those who are homebound or incarcerated.
If you got the J&J shot, you might as well delete your TikTok account right now, and if you don't have one, create one, and then delete it, just to be certain.
From the earlier Slate article:
Pro-Pfizer sentiment is all over TikTok, where you can find skits of bros bonding over their shared Pfizer status, or one creator declaring that the name itself "Sounds rich. Decadent. Luxury!"
I think it's useful to remember that we are an emotionally damaged society.
Leininger [a public health scientist at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College explaining the status of Pfizer] had a similar perspective: "I remember exactly where I was when I was reading the news on my phone and I saw the Pfizer headline about the 95 percent efficacy," she said. "I started crying. I am not a crier. That sticks in our brains. The psychology of this is very important. I don't remember where I was when I read the Moderna results, and I really don't remember where I was when I read the J&J results."
I have no memory whatsoever of where I was or what I was doing when I heard about the efficacy rate of Pfizer, and if I did cry, it would have only been because I happened to have coincidentally dropped a really expensive bottle of whiskey. Also a cheap bottle of whiskey. Okay, any bottle of whiskey.
A British publication called Marketing Week that declared Pfizer "the winner of the Covid vaccine brand battle" also cited this moment: "For the first time in my adult life I listened to the World Service news with a mug of coffee and a tear rolling down my cheek," wrote columnist Mark Ritson.
And yes, this is a real T-shirt you can buy. This is actually a thing.