I was eligible for the vaccine in late January in my state because I’m a teacher. When all was said and done, I was going to be “safe” by early March.
As the last drop of Pfizer coursed through my veins, I had one thought: time to get going on those dating apps. I got the all-too-popular pandemic divorce and had been celibate—I mean, single—since last summer. I felt like I missed out on one of the summers of my relative youth. Besides everything being closed and canceled, I was going through a huge, terrible life event and wasn’t cavorting around. I was ready for an adventure.
March arrived, my immunity kicked in, the cherry blossoms popped, and the air got warmer. I fired up my apps. Quoting Hamilton, since that’s all I could do until Broadway comes back, I thought to myself, “I am not throwing away my shot!” I had to get me a date for summer. I wanted someone to go hiking with! I wanted to kayak! I wanted a beach day buddy that wasn’t my dog!
At the time I got vaccinated, I was a hot commodity: most people my age weren’t vaccinated. Most people my age wouldn’t be ready to exchange the same air without risk until at least mid-May. So, I forced myself out there with the help of my bff who, as a psychiatrist, was also vaccinated and able to visit and sit with me while I weeded through the 500+ likes in my neglected dating app.
I updated my profile, proudly displaying my (birthdate and last name redacted) vaccine card selfie. I put it in my bio with a disclaimer that I’m still going to wear a mask because science is real, and I messaged some dudes, proudly flexing my teaching degree for the first time ever. With the help of my bestie, I soon had some actual conversations going with several men who, as far as we could tell, are not serial killers, or at least are flying under the radar.
My friend went home and a couple of my virtual conversations turned into real asks out into the world. It was nice to know they might actually want to meet me in person and then I got worried…what if they ONLY want to meet me because I’m “safe?” What if I’m a consolation prize? What if they’re just lonely and wanting someone who won’t kill them with corona? What if what if what if what if.
So ask yourself: Do I like him, or is he just vaccinated?
Are you only attracted to him because he won’t kill you with diseases but you still aren’t sure if he is a serial killer? Then, don’t date.
Do you live in a red state and are just so relieved to meet someone who believes in science that you’ll do anything to get in his pants? That’s maybe not enough to form a connection over…
Is his facial hair the kind that you’d be embarrassed to bring home to Mother? Then, swipe him away.
Is he perhaps only into you because you can come and go under the cover of nightfall and immunity? That’s a dealbreaker, ladies.
Is he the most annoying human you’ve ever met and only talks about his obsession with tugboats but, you know, with the lights off and some ear plugs it might work? No.
Does he ask you anything at all about yourself beyond your vaccine status? Promising.
Is he half-vaxxed and worth the wait? Then go for it!
After a lengthy vetting process, I agreed to meet someone in person. I drove to the date, chock full of immunity, caffeine, and a little anti-anxiety medication. My team was rooting for me to have a good time, but there was no rush. I missed my window of being the shiny, vaccinated thing. I didn’t need my vaccine to stand out from a crowd of available bachelorettes, anyway. If my person was ready for me, they’d like me, shots and all.
TORONTO—Sitting on her couch, her butt deepening the imprint formed by 13 months of pressure in the exact same spot on the cushions, Toronto resident Jessica opens up her laptop to check if she qualifies yet for the covid-19 vaccine. After scrolling through the list of medical conditions and the designated hotspot zip codes, she learns that she must continue to wait for her first dose.
With a sigh, she opens up Instagram and begins scrolling through vaccine selfie after vaccine selfie from her American friends, her jealousy intensifying with each smiling #modernababe and #pfizerpfriends post. The type of envy she’s feeling is relatively new, a product of the pandemic, much like the sensation of panic upon stepping outside and realizing you’ve forgotten your mask and disgust upon seeing a stranger’s nose exposed in public.
“We’re calling this new phenomenon Vaccine FOMO,” says Dr. John Johnson, a researcher at Stanford University. “Instead of missing out on plans like bar crawls or brunches, the fear is missing out on the immunity offered by the covid-19 vaccine—and then, by extension, the possibility of being able to attend plans. In places where vaccine rollout is slow, the fear is very much a reality.”
While temporarily distressing, Vaccine FOMO (otherwise known as VFOMO) is not life-threatening. Side-effects include starting wistfully out the window, hate-liking Instagram posts, and briefly considering taking a trip to Florida.
“I still don’t get how the American healthcare system pulled one over on us,” grumbled Jessica.
Dr. Johnson warns that even those who are partially vaccinated are still subject to Vaccine FOMO. New York City area woman Chelsea, who has only received her first Moderna shot, reports experiencing VFOMO when she sees her friends Insta story from inside restaurants or in groups of more than two people.
But there is one silver lining.
“At least it’s a nice change of pace from regular FOMO,” admits Chelsea. “Now, when I see all my friends hanging out without me, I know why I wasn’t invited.”
She clarifies, “Plus, not having to go through the internal battle of wanting to stay in vs. not wanting to miss out has actually done wonders for my mental health,” she says, before adding with a knowing nod, “I’m a Libra.”
When reached for comment, Chelsea’s friends clarified that she was not invited to their last outing at the park because she is, in fact, annoying.
“We thought she got Johnson & Johnson weeks ago,” admits her friend Sarah. “We just find the way she blames her problems on her zodiac sign extremely grating.”
Image: Lucas Ottone / Stocksy
What’s the better part about getting the vaccine—protection from a potentially life-threatening virus, or social media validation? It’s a real toss-up. Thankfully, with today’s hottest Instagram trend being a selfie holding up your vax card (that might get your identity stolen), you don’t have to choose. Get ready, because all that rapid clicking at 3am on the Department of Health website will finally pay off in some sweet, sweet Instagram likes!
Unfortunately, there’s nothing worse (aside from the soreness, mild fever, and general fatigue) than snapping your best needle stabbing action shot before they rush you off to the 15-minute observation station and not getting the requisite double-digit likes on your pic. If you got the covid vaccine and didn’t document it for the sake of your own narcissism, are you even immune? Don’t be too hard on yourself—if you’re like many of us, you haven’t taken a bangin’ (or even acceptable) selfie in 13 months, and you’re probably out of practice. Luckily, you have one more shot (no pun intended) to nail it. Unless you got Johnson & Johnson, then you’ll just have to console your lack of Instagram likes with your less mild side effects. Actually, if you got J&J, best not to publicize that information at all.
Here are some selfie-taking best practices you may have overlooked in your initial quest to thirst trap with your exposed shoulder.
Plan Your Outfit
If the most thought you put into your vax ‘fit was wearing short sleeves as per the department of health’s recommendations, you really f*cked up big time. Assuming you give a sh*t about other people since you are getting the vaccine in the first place, this appointment is probably your biggest social outing in a good six months (park hangs notwithstanding, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that wearing a bikini top and denim shorts to your local Walgreen’s might not go over great). Remember all those pieces of cloth held together by thread sitting in the back of your closet? It’s time to shake the mothballs off them.
The good news is that a by-product of us all being cooped up inside is that we’ve all but forgotten normal social conventions when it comes to dressing. Is anyone going to side-eye you for wearing heels and a club dress to the mass vaccination site? Only because they’re mad they hadn’t thought of it first. Think outside the box! The cold shoulder look is overdone, what other unexpected body parts can you expose? It should go without saying that your collarbone will be basking in the sun, but has your underboob gotten any love lately? How about your obliques? That spot where your butt connects to the thigh? The area behind the knees? This is the time to really go wild.
Do Your Hair
You know, those things growing out of your head that you’ve been neglecting for the past 13 months? Time to apply some hot tools to those bad boys. It seems absurdly extra to give yourself a blowout with beachy waves to get jabbed in the arm by an overworked nurse, and it is, but the reality is that we’re too late in the vaccine rollout for you to get a significant number of likes by simply brandishing the little card on your IG feed. It’s time to do something big to set yourself apart, even if that means exposing your extreme vanity in the process. Who knows, maybe you’ll catch the eye of that probably-buff-not-at-all-scary National Guard guy in the corner.
Put On Eye Makeup
You know, those ball-shaped things in your head under which more bags than you’d find in a Louis Vuitton store have been growing for the past year-plus? You’re working with limited real estate with the mask and all (lipstick is out of the question, unless you want to look like a certain clown with a penchant for chaos and destruction) so you need to make it count where you can. Remember your liquid eyeliner? No, I know you don’t remember how to apply it, but do you at least recall the existence of such an item? Good—start practicing drawing a straight line. But don’t stop there! This is the time to do something experimental, like what you’ve been seeing on beauty TikTok. Paint the Mona Lisa on your eyelids—what else do you have to do?
Don’t Forget The Nail Polish
Since the pandemic robbed most of us of the opportunity to meet someone special, you likely won’t be showing off your left ring finger anytime soon. But you know what you will be showing off? The thumb and forefinger of your non-dominant hand as they pinch the little piece of card stock that indicates that you are less of a menace to society. You don’t want to be doing that with the same sad, raggedy looking nails, do you?
So you’re not pulling your weight solo. Maybe your 400 followers are sick of seeing just your face. And honestly, can you blame them? Your face is… fine, for sure, but it hasn’t changed much. It might be time to switch it up. Can you bring a dog with you for your vaccine appointment? Okay, so I have no idea. Forget the dog—can you get the person administering the shot to begrudgingly look into your iPhone camera? Couple that with a self-serving caption about how you’re doing this for the frontline workers, when really we all know you’re just itching to black out inside a sports bar on Football Sunday, and you should be set.
Lighting Is Everything
The rules of selfie-taking are simple and finite, and no amount of presets you drunkenly bought off an influencer or Adobe Lightroom edits can make up for sh*tty lighting. Unfortunately, you can only do so much in the back room of a CVS. It would be totally weird to bring a right light with you… or would it? I mean, you have 15 minutes to kill while they monitor you to make sure you don’t go into anaphylaxis.
Maybe Try A Weird Hat?
Have you considered pulling out all the stops? A weird hat? A slogan tee? A mask with a picture of a mouth on it? Those colored extensions girls wear to music festivals? A face tattoo? When it comes to using modern medicine to further your own Instagram popularity, there is no such thing as too over-the-top.
Remember, as we get later into the vaccine rollout, you’ll need to get more creative if you want your run-of-the-mill post-Pfizer photo to stand out. Sorry, but if you wanted to be the first in your friend group to put up a #vaxcitybitch selfie, maybe you should have gone to med school.
Images: Vitalii Kuznetsov /Shutterstock.com