Downtime

Every Celebrity Vaccine Selfie, Ranked From Worst to Best

Andrew Lloyd Webber, O.J. Simpson, Dolly Parton, oh my.

A collage of celeb vaccine selfies.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos from Instagram and Twitter.

As COVID-19 vaccines continue to roll out across the world, it’s clear that the vaxxie will be 2021’s defining social media trend. But some vaccine selfies will be exposed to more eyeballs than our own or our friends’ and neighbors’. Celebrities, ever just like us, and their social media feeds have also become a reliable source of these photos in recent months. From Ian McKellen’s vaccination in December to Dolly Parton’s earlier this month, some of them have made headlines on their own.

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As the corpus of celebrity vaxxies grows, it seems worth considering them in aggregate. We can agree that, by and large, they should be celebrated, and they may even help the cause of vaccination, proving cumulatively to be the equivalent of Elvis getting his polio shot in front of an international press corps for our more fragmented age.* But that doesn’t mean we can’t also ask: Which celebrity had the best vaxxie, and who had the worst one? You know, like “Who Wore It Best?” but for vaccine selfies? Anyway, I’m at your service: I’ve combed every list of vaccinated celebs, eliminated those who only talked about getting the shot (pics or GTFO) as well as the people I didn’t deem famous enough (Bravo-lebrities, mainly), and set out on a rigorous evaluation process. For our purposes, we will use a Warren-ian definition of “selfie,” so a selfie can be either a photo or a video, posted to a social media account belonging to one of the people in it. The rest, we’ll figure out on the fly … and hope it goes better than when the U.S. government adopted that as a strategy for getting through the pandemic.

58. Tony Bennett

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I don’t mean to pick on Tony Bennett, who I am very pleased has received the vaccine, but I think this is a good place to start: This is a good example of what a vaccine selfie isn’t. Maybe, one could protest, Tony Bennett (or more likely the people who manage his social media accounts) wasn’t trying to post a vaxxie. To which I would respond: Uh, why not? Why would posting a headshot seem like the right way to go when vaxxies are such a visible trend? Peep Bennett’s feed and you’ll see a recent snap of him eating the Lady Gaga–branded Oreos. So Lady Gaga’s marketing machine was able to convince him to sit for that photo, but not a global health crisis? Eh, fair enough, maybe; no pandemic on planet Chromatica.

57. O.J. Simpson

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O.J. Simpson got the vaccine while wearing a custom “The Juice” mask, but you know what, I still think Tony Bennett’s weird headshot is worse.

56. Jeff Goldblum

All power to Jeff Goldblum for sharing the news of his first dose, but this is a pretty sorry excuse for a vaccine selfie. Despite a photo that makes it look like he somehow got a nurse to deliver him the vaccine in his backyard, which would perhaps explain his outfit of a robe and loafers, this picture actually isn’t from his vaccination at all: As he says in his caption, it’s from the day after his shot, and it’s of him getting a COVID test on a film set. These are amateur mistakes, people! Apparently he posted the actual shot on his Instagram Stories? A baffling content strategy.

55. Gloria Steinem

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One does hate to say this about a feminist icon, but I cannot lie: This is lame-o. Just the sticker, no photo of her wearing it proudly, or better yet, her getting the shot? I would have thought Steinem had a more sophisticated understanding of media and the resonance of stickers vs. that of people. Still, Santa Barbara sounds nice.

54. Robin Thicke

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This isn’t a bad picture (Thicke is with his fiancée, April Love Geary), but I’m penalizing it because you’re really not supposed to share your vaccine cards on social media! Scammers are everywhere! On a different note, I’m also wondering: Are insufferable couples’ vaxxies going to be a thing? As if it wasn’t hard enough to be single during a pandemic.

53. Tituss Burgess

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I love Tituss and I’m glad he got vaccinated, but I have laid out my principles, and a video of someone talking about getting the vaccine after the fact is never going to be as good as footage or a photo of the actual jab.

52. Ricky Gervais

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Calling COVID the C-word is a weak joke to match an oddly low-definition photo.

51. Sean Penn

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Of course Sean Penn has a “global response organization” to promote while he’s getting vaccinated. I’m sure CORE is great … actually, I’m not, this guy has engaged in some questionable activism over the years. Not to mention, why’s the picture so blurry?

50. Brian Wilson

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Wilson’s vaxxie is not bad exactly, merely generic. A definite missed opportunity for a “Vaxxin’ USA” caption—or at least something that had been proofread?

49. Andrew Lloyd Webber

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Another pretty generic one—I think these rich old guys could use some better creative direction—though ALW gets cool points for getting his shot in August, after being invited to the Oxford vaccine trial Jellicle Ball.

48. Joe Biden

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Why does this look so staged, so impersonal? And I’m going to feel like a sicko every time I write this, but it’s true: When it comes to vaxxies, I don’t want to see someone standing around chatting with a health care professional; I wanna see needles, preferably needles going into arms.

47. Kamala Harris

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Also a bit canned, but slightly better than Biden’s.

46. Nancy Pelosi

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I guess most politicians can’t really do this without seeming stiff.

45. Bill Gates

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Do you have to make a fist when you get a shot? I thought that was only with drawing blood. Trying to figure out what’s going on with Gates’ hand here.

44. Julie Bowen

Bowen is another celeb with vaccine-trial bragging rights—though her vaxxie would have been better if she had included her face in it. Perhaps a case of trouble recalibrating her selfie-taking abilities in an age of masks?

43. Al Roker

Roker did a Today show segment about getting the vaccine, so his Instagram post of it only marginally counts as a vaxxie. But in finding it, I was interested to learn that Al Roker maintains a very robust Instagram presence, posting multiple times a day on grid. I’m not sure if that means he’s good at social media or bad at social media, though, which is part of why he’s ranked here.

42. Richard Branson

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Another fairly average vaxxie, this one a video. Most notable elements: a more-impressive-than-expected bicep, a pair of bright-green sneakers, and an enthusiastic little “woo!” at the end.

41. Anthony Hopkins

Fairly standard procedure here, but interesting to know that Hopkins is a mask-and-shield man.

40. Alan Alda

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Some oddly framed photos, but I’m a sucker for an actual selfie, as the first one appears to be.

39. Oliver Stone

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Here’s another vaxxie that commits the sin of not capturing the actual instance of vaccination—c’mon, man, you’re a director!—but Stone is redeemed by the international intrigue of having obtained his shot in Russia.

38. Loretta Lynn

As ever, minus points for the lack of action shot, but Lynn’s bundled-up look and folksy caption about getting the vaccine with her daughter are adorable. In the second shot in the carousel, we get a close-up of a big ol’ “I got my COVID-19 vaccine!” sticker on Lynn’s leopard-print sweater.

37. Dan Rather

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Rather is wearing a nice pair of suspenders in this vaxxie (but not, however, the nicest pair in this ranking—keep reading for that reveal). In the rather poetic last sentence of his accompanying tweet, about the polio vaccine, Rather delivers some of the classic newsman gravitas that made him famous.

36. David Harbour

Points for another rare actual selfie among all these fauxfies. Also, draw your attention to something Harbour wrote in his caption: “My doc told me I qualified (fortunately?) cause of crap I don’t need to get into”—a good reminder that it’s none of your business why someone qualifies to get the vaccine!

35. Martha Stewart

While we’re on the topic of vaccine etiquette, you’ve got to love Martha Stewart for preemptively explaining that no, she did not cut the line, so don’t come for her. A frisson of drama only enhances a vaxxie.

34. Ed Asner

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One of the fringe benefits of some of these vaxxies is getting a glimpse of the filial interactions between famous parents and their kids, as with Asner’s son here, sweetly filming his lovably gruff father.

33. The Dalai Lama

This is a fairly run-of-the-mill vaxxie, elevated by one important thing: I didn’t realize until just now that the Dalai Lama’s robes always cover only one of his arms, making them a divinely perfect outfit for getting vaccinated.

32. Hugh Bonneville

It’s charming to see Downton Abbey’s Earl of Grantham in jeans and a T, and all the more so when he’s giving the thumbs up with one arm and getting jabbed on the other.

31. Prue Leith

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I have to admit that I don’t watch The Great British Bake Off, so I don’t know much about Leith, but she was one of the first famous people to get the jab, and if her funky necklace is any indication, I like her style.

30. Kim Cattrall

Cattrall gets jabbed while wearing a cozy sweater and having a great hair day … though she can’t resist reminding her followers that she is only getting the shot after New York expanded its vaccine eligibility age from 65 and older to 60 and older. (She’s 64.) Relatable: I too protest vigorously when anyone tries to imply I am even a day older than I am.

29. Mavis Staples

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It looks like Mavis Staples is smiling under her mask as she gets her second dose of the vaccine—maybe because she knows the room she’s in has good lighting and her hair and her accessories look cute.

28. Pelé

Brazilian soccer legend Pelé got the vaccine while wearing, of course, a soccer jersey, and his Facebook post about it can be read in Portuguese or English, making his the only bilingual vaxxie on this ranking.

27. Stephen Fry

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Fry waxed a bit poetic in his tweet about getting vaxxed at Westminster Abbey, an indisputably cool place to make your vaxxie backdrop.

26. Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Schwarzenegger opts for what I am going to call a gimmick vaxxie, meaning a vaxxie in which he aggressively emphasizes some previously known aspect of his brand. In his case, he shoehorns his Terminator 2 line “Come with me if you want to live” into both his video and tweet text. But you know what, I’m not mad at it.

25. Kate Mulgrew

Joining Arnie in gimmick vaxxie-ing is Kate Mulgrew, whose “Consider this an order from your Captain” calls back to her time in the Star Trek franchise as Captain Janeway. She edges out the former governor in her execution with a little more subtlety where Schwarzenegger had none and some cool glasses.

24. Anthony Daniels

Daniels has in many ways been preparing for this gimmick vaxxie for his entire life, so it’s no surprise that the actor best known for his role as C-3PO plays it perfectly: His caption is a little poem about droids, while his gold mask somewhat subtly (as subtly as is possible for Daniels, I imagine) references the droid he’s been playing for more than 40 years.

23. Susan Lucci

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She may be 74, but Lucci is rocking those spaghetti straps, and her hair and hoops look good too: a soap opera diva getting her shot in style.

22. Samuel L. Jackson

Actual selfie alert. Jackson’s vaxxie (jaxxie?) gives us a view of the Forum, a Los Angeles venue that’s been transformed into a vaccine site, plus a fun superhero mask and some inspired hashtags: #lookoutworldbouttobustbackout, #vaccinespring, #gogitchyoursigotmine.

21. Danny DeVito

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This is exactly how you would expect a Danny DeVito vaxxie to look, no more, no less, and there’s something Zen about that.

20. Patrick Stewart

Stewart’s vaxxie distinguishes itself with his seemingly quite genuine gratitude for the health care worker who gives it to him—very sweet—and his aside that he had been “queuing” for “almost four hours” to get it. For one brief moment, I am proud of my incompetent country for managing to protect this Englishman who so kindly chooses to grace us with his presence.

19. Michelle Obama

I love how much more authentic and casual this photo seems compared with the ones Biden and Harris posted: just Michelle in some kind of health care facility, wearing a T-shirt and a headband in her curly hair, a needle about to go into her arm. She posted it alongside a video her husband appears in, along with several other former presidents, promoting the vaccine, but I love that rather than let a fancy video speak for her, Michelle participated in the vaxxie trend for real. A woman of the people.

18. Jonathan Van Ness

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JVN’s selfie deserves praise first of all because it looks like it might be an actual selfie, second of all because it looks like he’s really smiling under his mask, and third of all because he used the post to encourage other HIV-positive people like himself to get the shot too, a public service announcement that may have been genuinely impactful.

17. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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AOC’s vaccine experience was pretty typical of her social media strategy in general. She looks good, hair shiny, style on point, but that’s beside the point: She has a lot of information to share with you.

16. Barbara Corcoran

Shark Tank’s Corcoran, adorably wearing a winter hat with a poof on it and what appears to be striped pajamas, writes that she “[g]ot my second vaccine today at 4 AM and I feel like I won the lottery!”

15. Sarah Hyland

“As a person with comorbidities and on immunosuppressants for life,” Sarah Hyland was able to get the shot despite her age. I love her sassy one-shoulder-out pose and her fluffy coat, and this picture proves something I previously thought impossible, which is that you can still look cute when 95 percent of your face is under a mask, glasses, and hat.

14. Carole King

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King’s “It’s Too Late” update didn’t get the attention that Dolly Parton’s musical vaccine stylings have, but to be serious for a sec, it’s touching to think about this wave of vaccines protecting a generation of stars who have made such indelible contributions to our culture. Even Tony Bennett.

13. Jane Fonda

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Is it just me, or did whoever took the first photo for Fonda frame it really well? Art. And because she is a queen, Fonda also shared a selfie after her second shot, one in which she at first glance looks like she might be wearing a one-shoulder top, but I think she just took off half her shirt: either way, typical Fonda pragmatist glam.

12. Candice Bergen

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Kooky bulging eyes and some plant placement make for some comic relief, a nice change of vaxxie pace.

11. Joan Collins

I don’t know if it’s her pretty floral mask or the photo’s flattering angle, but Joan Collins’ vaxxie turned out appropriately chic. Would you believe this woman is 87 years old?

10. Buzz Aldrin

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His suspenders rule (and, yes, are better than Dan Rather’s).

9. Joan Jett

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Who but Joan Jett, at 62 still sporting spiky black hair and tattoos, could make getting the jab look totally punk rock?

8. Mandy Patinkin

Mandy Patinkin dons a cool bird mask, a black beanie, and his usual bushy eyebrows as he displays his good humor at his vax appointment. (In his caption, he calls getting it “[o]ne of the few benefits of being old AF.”) He refers to, but unfortunately we do not see, his wife, the other half of quarantine’s hottest social media phenomenon. Perhaps the thrill of the two of them getting shots together would have been too powerful for one video.

7. Christie Brinkley

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Brinkley’s video diary turned vaxxie is, strictly speaking, probably longer than most people are looking to invest in hearing about the former model’s vaccine experience. If you do watch, however, you’ll be treated to a peppy Brinkley being squired around Astoria, Queens, by her handsome son, Jack, and the actual moment of vaccination, which includes an off-the-shoulder moment that shows that Brinkley’s still got it at 67 (or 50 for the 17th time, as she says in the video) as well as some very relatable pre-vax scared noises.

6. Marc Jacobs

Another example of the hard-to-achieve hot vaxxie, tats and clunky boots on full display. I don’t know how he was able to position himself in front of a mirror (unless he’s onto influencers’ mirror-pic tricks), which might not be an option for most vaccine selfie takers, but it makes for a nice composition. Plus: #nottodaymissrona

5. Farrah Abraham

Most of the celebrity vaxxies we’ve seen so far have been from older stars, for the obvious reason that eligibility has prioritized older people. Teen Mom OG’s Abraham gives us a preview of how the vaxxie might evolve when millennials get hold of it—cleavage, sexy lace mask, custom soundtrack—and I have to say, it’s incredible. (See also: Sarah Hyland, above.) (I would also not object to more shows of male skin in vaxxies as eligibility requirements continue to open up: Have you seen the prime minister of Greece?)

4. Isabella Rossellini

I am not sure why Rossellini appears to be naked here (post-shot spa trip? Just because she can be?), but she and her Band-Aid look undeniably great.

3. Vera Wang

You have to admit that a Vera Wang tank top is a great choice of what to wear to your vaccine appointment, especially if you yourself are Vera Wang. And why is it that on Wang, gloves and a mask don’t look like PPE, but just stylish accessories for a completely intentional look? At 71, Wang looks younger than her years, but she also exudes a specific New York coolness that turns out to be transferable to any situation, including sitting for a shot.

2. Ian McKellen

McKellen was one of the first celebrities to get the vaccine back in December. He didn’t have much precedent, and yet he nailed and perhaps helped create the art form that is the vaxxie: nothing fancy, just a rolled-up sleeve, a thumbs up, and a rainbow scarf for whimsy.

1. Dolly Parton

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Between you and me, I really did not want to rank Parton No. 1 here. It’s such a cliché! Totally unsurprising! But Parton outdid everyone else on basically every front, from her cold-shoulder dress (that took planning) to singing “Vaccine” to the tune of “Jolene” (peak gimmick vaxxie) to having the shot itself administered by her friend Naji Abumrad, an Easter egg for anyone who listened to the podcast Dolly Parton’s America. Who else could do all that and convincingly deliver the line, directed to those she dubbed vaccine cowards, “Don’t be such a chicken squat”?

Correction, March 23, 2021: This post originally misstated that Elvis Presley got the polio vaccine on live TV. He got the vaccine in front of journalists and photographers before an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

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