Are you Team Pfizer or Team Moderna? According to the internet, this is the biggest self-identity game since Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, and it all depends on which vaccine you got.
The very not-scientific masses seem to believe that Pfizer “girls” are superior. Moderna “girls,” not so much. And if you’re a Johnson and Johnson person, or dare we say, Astra-Zeneca, we’re sorry to inform you, but you’re not even in the race. (But our science writer does have good news for the oft-ignored J&J crowd!)
This is all in good fun, of course. Experts like Dr. Fauci have said the best vaccine to get is the one you’re eligible to get first—as long as it’s both doses if the vaccine requires two shots. Each vaccine has been rigorously tested and has proven a high percentage of efficacy to protect from severe illness and death from the virus, which is desperately necessary.
The coronavirus pandemic has already killed over 500,000 Americans so far and community immunity by way of immunization is the best way to save lives, and get back to normality, whatever that may look like in the future.
That being said, there’s a reason prospective college students flock to the top university rankings each year and why millennials still argue that their respective (and fantastical) Harry Potter Hogwarts’ House is the best.
People have an obsession with belonging and status and coolness, so it was only a matter of time before these impulses took hold among the vaccinated masses. Pandemic be damned, we’re always going to find a way to be part of a group that's better than another.
People on Twitter have made this very clear. They are sharing memes that compare Pfizer vaccine recipients to Moderna ones, and it can get heated in the comment threads.
Dr. Donelson R. Forsyth, a social and personality psychologist who teaches at The University of Richmond, told The Daily Beast that this behavior tracks with a typical human behavior known as the “social categorization theory.”
“We very naturally put everyone we meet into psychologically constructed categories, and that includes ourselves. In the classic studies of this tendency, researchers would bring in people to a room and divide them into two groups—totally at random," he explained in an email. "Immediately, people would start to identify with their own group, and view the people in the other group negatively. Even without ever talking to one another, people assume they are in the ‘good group’ and that there is something wrong with the people in the other group.”
“We are so quick to think it is 'us vs. them' that we use any difference among us to create divisions: Baylor vs. Gonzaga, Morning People vs. Night Owls, Chevy drivers vs. Ford drivers, Moderna vs. Pfizer (I won’t even mention thrill-seeking J&Js),” he added.
But getting a vaccine is not just a friendly (or not) status symbol. It’s literally about life or death. You’d think that having enough shots to go around so that everyone who needs or wants one could get one would actually stifle our exclusive nature, but a Notre Dame paper titled The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective suggests that having fewer options actually heightens the divide.
According to the authors, “comparison concerns intensify and competitiveness increases as the number of competitors decreases, even when controlling for overall expected payoffs.” In other words, the fewer competitors, like just four types of vaccines, the more people feel the need to be the best, which explains that Pfizer Diana vs. Moderna Camilla meme. (Though the Moderna people beg to differ.)
In some tweets, people have wondered if they’re even compatible with their significant others or friends anymore? The same way novice astrologers would ask if an Aries could match in harmony with a Libra, people are now wondering if a Pfizer girl could date a Moderna guy. (Spoiler: It does not matter, as long as both people are vaxed).
Whether someone is a J&J hottie or Modern Moderna woman, at the end of the day, we share a common goal: slowing the COVID-spread like our lives depend on it. Because these days, they do.