Why COVID-19 Vaccine Selfies Are More Important Than You Think

Vero Romero
In the midst of Australia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, there's a high chance that you've seen a flurry of post-jab selfies on your social media feed, or even shared a photo of yourself after getting the shot. But what you may not know is that this 'vaxxies' trend could be surprisingly useful in boosting vaccination rates.
Social media conspiracy theories and mixed messaging around eligibility have left many Aussies confused about the side effects and the effectiveness of the shots.
But according to experts, the sharing of vaxxies can actually help combat some of the vaccine hesitancy within the community. While some people don't trust government advertising, these selfies shared within social circles can help normalise the process of getting vaccinated.
More celebrities and influencers are using their platforms to post photos after getting vaccinated, along with hashtags such as #vaxxie, #GetVaccinated and #GetVaccinatedNow. Community leaders are doing the same to target particular groups, and it's becoming increasingly popular for many of us to share these snaps with family and friends.
University of Tasmania marketing professors, Louise and Martin Grimmer, and Queensland University of Technology marketing and consumer behaviour professor, Gary Mortimer, explain how we often rely on friends and family for guidance in uncertain times.
"This results in social pressure to engage in certain behaviours," they write in a piece published on The Conversation. "If our family and friends are posting vaxxies, it’s an implicit nudge for us to get vaccinated too. And as reported vaccine shortages continue and demand grows, seeing vaxxies can also increase our fear of missing out (FOMO)."
The practice is helpful so long as it doesn't become virtue signalling, with the experts saying, "most of us aren’t impressed by those who overtly express their own moral correctness. There’s a fine line between encouraging others to engage in a certain behaviour and coming across as self-righteous."
Overseas, some social media platforms have observed increased vaccine acceptance with the aid of certain online tools.
"More than 50% of people in the US on Facebook have already seen someone use the COVID-19 vaccine profile frames, which we developed in collaboration with the US Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC," said Guy Rosen, VP, Integrity at Facebook in a media statement released in July. "From what we have seen, when people see a friend share they have been vaccinated, it increases their perceptions that vaccines are safe."
In Australia, 14,476,323 COVID-19 vaccines doses had been administered as of August 12. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that 70% of the adult population needs to be fully vaccinated before the country can get a step closer to normality with reduced quarantine arrangments, low-level restrictions and international arrival cap changes.
There's still a lot more people waiting to get vaccinated, which can only mean more vaxxies are yet to come.

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