A startling number of people have inexplicably agreed that Pfizer is the best coronavirus vaccine.
In between frantically refreshing the Walgreens website, navigating byzantine vaccine portals on behalf of aged parents, and posting selfies with sore arms, the American public has taken time to rank the various coronavirus vaccines. On social media, a consensus has formed that Pfizer is the cool one, Moderna is for dorks and Johnson & Johnson is not even to be mentioned. This bizarre hierarchy has emerged so quickly — especially on TikTok, where an audio track declaring that “only hot people get the Pfizer vaccine” has spawned hundreds of videos — that journalists are scrambling both to reiterate that Pfizer is not just for “hot people” and to find an explanation for this phenomenon. The Atlantic’s Kaitlyn Tiffany even consulted a linguist, who characterized the situation as something of a branding case study: Pfizer’s “fast-sounding” fricatives (those snappy “f” and “z” sounds) make it seem especially upmarket, he said, while Moderna’s very literal name evokes a “budget brand.”
The only person immune from this trend, it seems, is freshman senator and universally-recognized Nice Jewish Boy Jon Ossoff, who would like to remind you that all vaccines are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights, including the right not to be demeaned via meme.
To highlight increased vaccine eligibility in Georgia, the Senator posted a TikTok framing the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines as besties, not enemies. Riffing on a popular audio track in which several women get ready for a “girls’ night out,” he tells all three that it’s “time to hit the road.”
Anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Book your appointment now: vaccinefinder.org♬ original sound - mark
With a patchwork vaccine rollout forcing us to essentially compete for lifesaving medicine by pouncing on scarce appointments as soon as they appear, and rich countries contemplating booster shots while poor ones wait to receive any vaccines, it feels all too natural (if also all too demoralizing) to rank the jabs we’re getting — to make sure we’re getting our due. The Schmooze is unsure if Ossoff intended his TikTok as an indictment of vaccine snobbery or American individualism. In fact, I’m pretty sure he just wants Georgians over 16 to get vaccinated.
But if only inadvertently, he reminded us that while the coronavirus vaccine has become a kind of competition, it really shouldn’t be one — which is what all the best TikToks do.