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Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson team?  Vaccine rivalries take over TikTok

Just before receiving her second Pfizer vaccine on April 2, Bella Sabino said she couldn’t scroll through TikTok without seeing a slew of videos declaring Pfizer the “hot vaccine.”

“People were making a really funny joke out of it… you know, Johnson and Johnson vs. Pfizer vs. Moderna,” said Sabino, 19, who attends Fordham University in New York City.

So, after being fully vaccinated, Sabino lip-synced the audio she had heard over and over again, the one that had decreed those who had made Pfizer “hot”, while lifting her sleeve to reveal the bandage where she had had it. shoot.

“Uh, only hot people get the Pfizer vaccine,” announces the popular audio, recorded by TikTok user “idrinkurmilkshake”. “If you have Moderna then, I don’t know what to tell you, queen. This message is brought to you by the Pfizer gang.”

As millennials and Gen Xers post “vaccine selfies” on Twitter before them, more and more young people are seizing the moment to create vaccine-centric trends on TikTok as they become eligible to be vaccinated. Vaccine rivalries are among the earliest of these trends.

Like the “Pfizer gang,” those with Moderna claim to be superior because country singer Dolly Parton donated $ 1 million for her creation. Many joked that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was the “Walmart vaccine” because it was less effective than Pfizer or Moderna, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Everyone loves a little rivalry, whether it’s sports or something like that. It definitely brings turmoil and excites people, ”said Lena Daniels, 22, of Orlando, Fla., Who received her first Pfizer vaccine on April 6.

The CDC reported that among people in the United States who received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, about 9.5% were between the ages of 18 and 29.

Daniels said most people her age she knew were thrilled to get the shot, and the rivalries on TikTok are an expression of that excitement.

“Most of the people my age are very progressive in their thinking process and they are just excited to be getting their life back, and being so close to summer everyone is so excited to start traveling and put their lives back. back on track, ”she said.

Daniels also posted an audio video set on Pfizer being for “hot people,” while showing off the bandage on his arm. She said her comments were filled with people joking that TikTok’s algorithm got scary by showing them Daniels’ video right after they, too, received a Pfizer vaccine.

“Some of the comments are like, ‘How did everyone know I had Pfizer? All of my TikToks are for Pfizer. “And just a nod to the TikTok algorithm that knows all about us, honestly,” Daniels said.

Some have used the rivalry between vaccines and vaccines to show both they have been vaccinated, but also to allay fears loved ones might have that the vaccine will make them sick.

“I kind of wanted to humbly brag about how I was getting vaccinated, so I did it to show my friends and family – my family is a bit skeptical about the vaccine – I wanted to show them that everything was fine, ”said Tiffany Selberg. , 20, from North Carolina, who is scheduled for her second Moderna hit on Monday, April 12. “It’s kind of something that a lot of Gen Z people are using to come together and fight the virus.”

In March, after her first dose, Selberg posted a video on TikTok of herself showing her vaccine card with a caption that read, “MODERNA GANG RISE UP”.

While it doesn’t appear that vaccine rivalries are being used to spread misinformation about the vaccine, TikTok does provide a banner on videos covering Covid-19 vaccines that can connect viewers to an integrated coronavirus resource center with frequently asked questions and answers about Covid -19 vaccines. The answers to the questions come from the CDC and the World Health Organization.

But not all rivalries are about which vaccine is superior. Some have compared the three vaccines to the three factions in the Pokemon Go game and the Hogwarts Houses from the Harry Potter series.

Those who spoke to NBC News said they predict rivalries are the first of many vaccine trends TikTok will see in the coming months, adding that they believe it reflects the enthusiasm and desire of young people. to return to a normal life.

“We all have a lot of hope for the future now that everyone is vaccinated, so all the conversations, no matter how stupid they are, everyone is really happy that we are at this time,” Sabino said. .

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