Enter the Age of the Vaccine Selfie

From topless politicians to designers, it’s a thing. And it’s part of a longer tradition than you might expect.

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April 01, 2021

Someday, when the history of the pandemic is written, it may be a narrative told partly in images: the despair of crowded hospitals and body bags, the fear and isolation of the masks. And then the balm of a smiling individual, one sleeve rolled up practically to the collarbone, with a medical worker poised to jab a needle into their upper arm. Log in to any social platform, and the picture — not to mention The Pose — is almost impossible to miss.

The vaccine selfie has gone viral.

“I started seeing vaccine selfies almost as soon as the vaccines were available,” said David Broniatowski, an associate professor of engineering and applied science at George Washington University. “It was an almost immediate meme.” And rather than petering out, it seems only to be picking up steam.

Indeed, said Jeanine D. Guidry, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University focusing on public health and health communications, “It may end up being one of the iconic images of this time.”

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