A Vaccine Is Not a Personality

The memes and merch inspired by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are not helping the fight against COVID.

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Episode Notes

On this episode, Rachelle Hampton and Madison Malone Kircher look at the way the COVID vaccines have seemed to develop online personalities. They discuss how the memes and merch inspired by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson can actually encourage vaccine hesitancy—which is all the more disappointing since there are actually some pretty informative TikToks out there about COVID-19. Next, they speak to a few Slatesters who might not have purchased vaxx merch but definitely made their own reckless online purchases, by buying things through targeted Instagram ads. Do these impulse buys ever bring us the joy we think they will?

For more on this topic, check out “How Pfizer Became the Status Vax” by Slate’s Heather Schwedel.

Podcast production by Daniel Schroeder and Derek John.


About the Show

Join Madison Malone Kircher and Rachelle Hampton twice a week as they gaze deep into the online abyss—and tell you what’s gazing back. All episodes


  • Rachelle Hampton is a culture writer and reporter at Slate. Her work has appeared in the New Republic, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian Magazine, and In These Times. She still hasn't recovered from Tumblr's demise.

  • Madison Malone Kircher is a senior writer at Slate. She was previously a staff writer at New York magazine, where she covered internet culture and edited New York’s Approval Matrix. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Vulture, and the Cut. Madison lives in Brooklyn, where she regularly drops her phone on her face watching TikToks in bed.