A recent exchange I had upon learning I’d be eligible for the vaccine on April 1:
Me: I’m going to choose to the Johnson & Johnson
She: That one doesn’t work as good
Me: I don’t give a shit
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines came roaring out the gate, what with their lipid encapsulated Virus Killer-loads of genetic ammo. With efficacy rates of like 120% (that is hyperbolic irony, a theoretical state in which the vaccine gives you the disease so it can then cure you), both offerings epitomize the world-saving, super high-maintenance bioengineered stars of the day. Everyone who is anyone gets jabbed by either; it is a rush to be first and be the best.
Then along trots Johnson & Johnson’s offering, not so fashionably late. Unable to boast the astronomic efficacy or dazzling displays of cutting edge, experimental tech as its model siblings, this latecomer is the plain pharmaceutical stepsister. Due to its less eye-catching numbers, people are dogging it and surreptitiously ostracizing it despite pleas from experts that people should not turn it down, given the opportunity to get jabbed.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, though less “cool” to public perception, is no slouch. Choosing to deliver the heartier DNA via an Adenovirus vector, it is more accessible and usable than the mRNA vaccine duo. This has led to a less glamorous rep. Less glamorous in today’s parlance means it’s not trendy and it doesn’t fulfill all the foodie qualifications of pretentious consumption. The upper tier elites, and their orbiter wannabe’s, do not strive to be jabbed by Johnson & Johnson’s flyover vibe.
The unfolding of Johnson & Johnson’s roll out has resulted in the “ghettoization” of their vaccine (sorry for the paywalled link).
Unlike its mRNA predecessors, this vaccine doesn’t require ultra-cold storage and needs only a single dose to protect people against serious COVID-19 outcomes—including, most importantly, death.
These attributes mean it could be more easily deployed to reach communities that have been left behind as an inequitable vaccine rollout has overly favored white people. But there’s a catch. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has an overall efficacy lower than the other two vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use in the country. And that fact has raised concerns that marginalized communities—including Black, Latino, and indigenous people with the highest risk of serious COVID-19 outcomes and a history of medical mistreatment—would be steered toward the vaccine with the lowest level of protection against severe and mild disease.
“Marginalized” is what I call ghetto. Calling out ghetto is widely construed as racist and hateful in today’s arena, but if the shoe fits…
It’s important to note, experts say, that all three vaccines offer significant protection against COVID-19. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine may also offer some advantages to marginalized communities.
In an uneven vaccine rollout that has greatly benefited affluent and white people, many have been left behind. That includes people without transportation or childcare, those who work in essential jobs, and Black, brown, and indigenous people. When it comes to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, some say its “delivery” makes it a logical choice to send to these harder-to-reach marginalized and vulnerable communities.
“Right now, Black people, Latinx people, and indigenous people are the people who are dying the most from COVID-19, but they have less access to the vaccine,” says Keisha Ray, an assistant professor and bioethicist at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.
All this points toward the obvious, but unutterable: Johnson & Johnson’s less tedious robustness and less neurotic administration is suited to serving a population less finicky and unpleased, ie, ghetto, baby!
The vaccine distribution has proven one unshakable opinion I have of people: they are tools.
Storage and handling
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not have to be stored at extremely low temperatures like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It can safely be kept in an ordinary refrigerator for three months, much longer than the Moderna vaccine, which spoils after a month if not kept frozen.
The blatant vaccine signaling mimics the bizarre nuances of modern social signaling: high-maintenance is elite.
Learned acceptance is ghetto.