A Field Guide to the Many Varieties of Vaccine Selfie, AKA Vaxxies

The defining social-media trend of 2021 is well underway, and some patterns are already emerging

February 3, 2021 7:07 am
A Field Guide to the Many Varieties of Vaccine Selfie, AKA Vaxxies
Thomas Barwick/Twitter

Back in December, when Moderna and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines began to be distributed among healthcare workers, the vaccine selfie was born. Dubbed the “vaxxie,” early iterations involved frontline workers posing for photos or capturing a classic selfie while being administered the shot, the result resembling those ubiquitous “I voted” snaps that come around every election cycle. (A few even bolstered an “I got vaccinated” sticker to drive home the point.) Soon, senescent celebrities like Sir Ian McKellen were making headlines for their own vaccine closeups, offering gratitude to healthcare workers and support for the vaccine. 

Above all, the vaxxie is a helpful tool for instilling public confidence in the vaccine as it starts to roll out to the general public. But it’s also a deeply needed bright spot in an otherwise dark timeline; videos of healthcare workers jubilantly dancing after receiving their vaccinations have gone viral, jerking many tears across social media and providing hope that this whole coronavirus mess is finally winding to an end. 

Of course it’s not all rainbows and mass injections. Vaccine rollout has been a bit of a shitshow, to put it bluntly. Distribution has been slow on a national level, with states encountering a whole host of problems in their attempts to inoculate residents. We’re hearing horror stories of unused, perfectly fine doses being thrown out and people camping out in their local pharmacies hoping to snag leftovers. Additionally, experts are worried wealthy people will attempt to leverage their privilege and jump the vaccine line, something we’ve already seen with access to COVID testing

What does all of this mean for the vaxxie? Well, depending on who you are and how you’ve obtained it, parading your new vaccinated body on social media might elicit different reactions — some we’ve seen, and some we can only hypothesize are coming. Below, we’ve catalogued a number of vaxxie varieties you can expect to see circulating around the interweb from now until probably well into 2022. Read them, know them and make sure you don’t commit some hapless blunder when it’s your turn to introduce the world to your vaxxie.

The Healthcare Worker Selfie

This OG style typically includes healthcare workers hoisting two thumbs up and hiding ear-to-ear smiles behind their masks. Others assume the traditional selfie pose while decked out in PPE, face shields and an “I got vaccinated” sticker, with a caption explaining the importance of getting vaccinated.

The Healthcare Worker Jubilation Post

Many essential workers were so overjoyed upon receiving their vaccinations they broke out into song and dance. The Boston Medical Center posted a TikTok of their workers doing a choreographed jig to Lizzo after receiving their vaccines, and other, similarly celebratory posts have followed, each of them garnering tons of emotional reactions from viewers. After early PPE shortages and total exhaustion from fighting nearly a year of COVID cases, frontline workers are finally getting some protection against the virus, and the catharsis they experience in doing so is contagious. 

The Subtle Vaccination Card Flex 

The photo of your COVID-19 vaccination card is another popular, but more subtle way of saying “I’m vaccinated, bitches.” The low-key flex is reminiscent of soft-launching your relationship on Instagram: It says so much without showing a ton, and also begs questions, like how the hell did you get your hands on one. Unfortunately, the Better Business Bureau recently warned against posting your vaccine card on social media, because there is some self-identifying information on it scammers covet. So maybe opt for the sticker when it’s time to post yours. 

The (Older) Celebrity Vaccine Selfie

Sir Ian McKellen, Jane Fonda, Mandy Patinkin and tons of other celebrities in the 65 and up age range have posted themselves receiving the injection, showing support for the vaccine and urging others to get it.

The “So Nice to See This Politician Who Made the Pandemic Worse by Refusing to Give the Public Sufficient Aid Get the Vaccine Before Everyone Else” Selfie

This one’s pretty self-explanatory.

The “Here’s Why I Was Eligible for the Vaccine; Please Don’t Cancel Me” Selfie

When Martha Stewart posted a video to Instagram of herself receiving her first dose of the COVID vaccine, she made sure to add a disclaimer: “To allay your concerns that I jumped the line know that I am in the approved age group for this batch of vaccines and I waited in line with others,” her caption read. While she looks incredibly good for her age, Stewart is in fact 79 years old and qualifies for the vaccine. Still, her celebrity status probably didn’t hinder her efforts to get it, and her disclaimer is reminiscent of the many disclaimers celebrities and influencers have used to justify less admirable pursuits throughout the pandemic (looking at you, Kardashian tropical birthday extravaganza squad). While we haven’t seen too many of these vaccine disclaimers yet, as the rollout continues, it’s likely that a deluge of these longform explainers that are currently waiting in drafts will see the light of day. 

The Young, Presumably Healthy Celeb Selfie (TBD) 

As noted just above, younger, presumably not-at-risk celebrities getting the vaccine before everyone else have not come into existence … yet. Maybe the uber-wealthy have finally learned that flaunting their privilege and riches to the general public is not advisable. But probably not. We’ve seen the rich and famous access COVID tests and medical screenings with incredible ease just to travel and throw parties, so it’s unlikely they’ll stop at immunization. I for one am patiently waiting for the day Kim Kardashian uploads an Instagram story of her heavily filtered self getting the vaccine before jetting off on another vacation, assuring me that she and her inner circle have all been cured and are thus paragons of responsible, ethical merrymaking. 


Check out my newest Pfizer Unboxing Vid on my channel!!! Ily you guys and ily Pfizer! #vaccine #pfizer #influencersinthewild

♬ All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

The Influencer Vaccine Selfie (Also TBD)

TikTok users have already imagined how social media influencers might react to getting the vaccine, riffing on the trope of unboxing videos with humorous posts in which they fawn over packaging, poll their followers and snap boomerangs. While it’s doubtful Pfizer or Moderna will be sending cute little PR packages to influencers, I think we can all agree that if they did, this is exactly what would happen. 


we did it joe! we went vaccine dumpster diving #vaccine #covid #fyp

♬ A-Punk – Vampire Weekend

The “I Hung Around My Pharmacy Until Closing Time and Got the Vaccine” Selfie

Since vaccines have to be kept cold, once they’re out of their temperature-controlled environment, they must be administered within a certain amount of time. The Moderna vaccine, for example, expires six hours after removing the dose from the vial. There have been numerous reports of vaccine appointment no-shows or health centers failing to find enough “essential” people to vaccinate, leading to unused doses being thrown out or administered to random, lucky people milling around pharmacies. Many have caught wind of this issue and are now lining up around distribution centers and grocery stores in an attempt to snag a leftover. This method requires a lot of grit and even more luck, and while it is a picture-perfect representation of America’s failing systems, it also makes for a pretty unique vaxxie. 

The SoulCycle Instructor Selfie (Deleted)

SoulCycle instructor Stacey Griffith made headlines on Monday for posting her vaccine selfie and then getting absolutely dunked on by critics for line-skipping. In a now-deleted Instagram post, the 52-year-old Griffith, who Vox notes is “the most handsomely paid SoulCycle instructor in the company, at $800 per class,” explained that she recently got her first dose in Staten Island, NY. In New York City, where Griffith is based, only healthcare and grocery-store workers, residents over 65 and teachers are currently eligible for the vaccine. According to the Daily Beast, Griffith used her status as a health and wellness “educator” to get the vaccine. 

People were rightfully pissed. As the Daily Beast notes, many eligible for the vaccine in NY have had appointments canceled due to scheduling and supply issues, not to mention the many folks with underlying health conditions who aren’t even eligible yet. The situation is worrisome, raising concerns about how the wealthy and well-connected will likely use their privilege to hop the vaccine line. Griffith took to Instagram to apologize for her actions, leaving us with the opportunity for yet another kind of vaxxie: The I Apologize for My Vaccine Selfie Selfie. 


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