Tools
Change country:

Nicki Minaj isn’t anti-vax, exactly. That’s why her vaccine resistance is so concerning.

Nicki Minaj sitting alone at a cafe table. Nicki Minaj attends the Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 runway show during New York Fashion Week on February 12, 2020, in New York. | Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs

Minaj, under the guise of urging vaccine caution, is helping mainstream a dangerous form of anti-science.

For many people, Nicki Minaj’s scene-stealing tweets about why she chose not to attend the Met Gala Monday night were peak comedy. Minaj told several people on social media she’d chosen not to attend the haute couture event because of its requirement that attendees be vaccinated against Covid-19. After she explained her hesitancy in a baffling, instantly viral tweet involving swollen testicles and a canceled wedding, some ignored the more concerning parts of Minaj’s argument in favor of laughing.

While it’s tempting to just focus on the absurdist meme potential of Minaj’s tweets, Minaj’s approach to the vaccine is deeply concerning, both because it reflects a widespread distrust in public policy, health, and science experts and because it presents a cautionary mindset regarding vaccines as a sort of reasonable “middle ground” in the fight between science and anti-vax ideology.

So far, about three-quarters of US adults are at least partially vaccinated against Covid, but many of the rest remain reluctant. As vaccinations become mandatory in many workplaces and schools, and people who are reluctant start discussing their anxieties, Minaj’s cautionary, individualistic approach to getting vaccinated might seem relatable and even reasonable. But this is still a highly dangerous approach rooted in misinformation and a concerning distrust of science.

We might think of it as the mainstreaming of “vaccine caution,” and it’s arguably just as dangerous as outright vaccine science denial.

Did Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s fiancée really call off their wedding because he got vaccinated?

On Monday afternoon, Minaj responded to a tweet from a fan lamenting her lack of recent public appearances by noting she didn’t want to risk her infant’s health during the pandemic. A few interactions later — including one in which she claimed Drake told her he contracted Covid-19 despite having gotten the vaccine — she tweeted, “They want you to get vaccinated for the Met. if I get vaccinated it won’t [be] for the Met. It’ll be once I feel I’ve done enough research. I’m working on that now.”

They want you to get vaccinated for the Met. if I get vaccinated it won’t for the Met. It’ll be once I feel I’ve done enough research. I’m working on that now. In the meantime my loves, be safe. Wear the mask with 2 strings that grips your head & face. Not that loose one ♥️

— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) September 13, 2021

Since it’s combined with the invocation to wear a mask — advice given by experts who’ve endorsed vaccines — Minaj’s wary approach to the vaccine is a bit confusing. However, it’s nothing compared to what she followed it up with. Apparently, a big part of her reluctance to get vaccinated was based in part on the fate of her Trinidadian cousin’s friend’s nuptials:

My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied

— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) September 13, 2021

Just to spell it out, known side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine do not include testicle swelling (although unfounded concerns about the vaccine and female fertility have circulated). Without more context about Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s illness, it’s impossible to know more — but it seems highly unlikely his situation had anything to do with Covid-19.

Naturally, this kind of left-field reasoning was widely ridiculed across social media, and Minaj quickly made headlines for peddling coronavirus conspiracies. Yet even as people were lining up to make STD references and Met Gala memes, many of Minaj’s fans were responding supportively — especially to her statement about “doing the research.”

“I read up on all the research for MONTHS before I chose to get it,” one reader responded, referring to the vaccine. “Everyone has the right to read the information given by the FDA and doctors before they take the shot right?”

This belief underlies Minaj’s argument, and it seems to be one that’s held by many other people with similar levels of mistrust in vaccine science.

Minaj’s insistence on doing her own “research” reflects widespread Covid-19 anxiety

The problem with “doing one’s own research” is that, as Minaj’s tweets reveal, many people — who haven’t spent years researching viruses and vaccines — don’t have the scientific knowledge needed to evaluate vaccine efficacy without the help of experts. A huge part of the effort to curb Covid-related misinformation has been about trying to get people to understand that vaccination “research” isn’t something many people can just sit down and do on their own. Trying to do so may lead the researcher to pockets of misinformation that result in a citizen being more poorly informed, not better informed, about the actual health risks of vaccines.

In fact, this kind of thinking can be a direct route to begin interacting with and possibly believing in a wide range of conspiracy theories, mainly because there is so much misinformation and disinformation about highly complex subjects, including Covid-19.

It doesn’t help that some of that disinformation has come from trusted public institutions — including, during the Trump administration, directly from the US president.

What Minaj’s opinions represent, then, isn’t just her individual lack of knowledge giving rise to wariness over the vaccine. Her fear has been bolstered by years of anti-vax campaigns, as well as general public lethargy about actually getting vaccinated.

Minaj’s pushback against pro-vaccine rhetoric isn’t unique to her by any means. Black communities have endured centuries of being ruthlessly exploited, lied to, and sometimes used in unethical medical experiments without their knowledge or consent. They’ve been subjected to blatantly racist medical practices, all while continually bearing some of the worst effects of health epidemics, including Covid-19.

With systemic factors leading to a hugely unequal Covid-19 death toll among Black people last year, and false claims about Covid vaccines continuing to spread, there is substantial mistrust of Covid-19 science among some Black Americans. If Nicki Minaj among that group, can she really be blamed for it?

Well, yes and no — because Minaj’s tweets arguably have a powerful influence over the way her 22 million Twitter followers approach the subject of vaccination. If Minaj’s faith in science and health officials has been undermined, and she’s subsequently encouraging followers to trust their intuition over that of health experts, she’s promoting a distrust of science in general that could have seriously damaging repercussions.

What Minaj seems to be arguing for, however, isn’t outright vaccine rejection. She even went on to say, “I’m sure I’ll [be] vaccinated as well cuz I have to go on tour.” Her cautionary, individualistic approach to getting vaccinated, however, might still do damage.

Minaj’s ambivalence is part of a wider problem in conversations around Covid-19 vaccines

Minaj immediately began attempting to soften her harsher statements about the vaccine. She asked her followers which vaccine they’d recommend, and commented that taking the vaccine with no side effects is “the norm.” She also went on to say she “def recommend[s]” that people whose jobs or countries mandate vaccination do so, and admitted she’d probably get the vaccine herself. She also reiterated that her main reason for skipping out on the Met Gala was to protect her 1-year-old son.

She then pointed to a couple of her own tweets to argue that she had never expressed opposition to the vaccine. Minaj’s support clearly seems to be aimed at preventing job loss in circumstances where the vaccine is mandatory. The subtext seems to be a reluctant acceptance that workers can’t always be able to choose to go unvaccinated, rather than Minaj enthusiastically supporting vaccination itself.

Minaj’s overall attitude seems to be a kind of wary caution and a “DIY” approach to science. That might reflect a new “wave” of vaccine rhetoric adopted by many people who don’t strictly identify as anti-vax but who are still reluctant to actually get their shot.

Surveys have found that most unvaccinated adults say they are unlikely to change their minds and get the vaccine. Others who have not gotten the shot may be “in-betweeners” — people who aren’t anti-vax but who are still in a kind of wait-and-see holding pattern.

These holdouts could make a substantial difference in how effective the Covid-19 vaccines can be. The higher the vaccinated population, the more the vaccines can reduce transmission of the disease. Fully vaccinated people can resume living their lives somewhat normally, and their confidence and health may likely help sway even those who’ve firmly decided against the vaccine.

Instead, Minaj’s “middle-of-the-road” approach might become a new avenue for expressing distrust in science while still acquiescing to the necessity of vaccination.

The problem with this is that the efficacy of vaccines never has been, and shouldn’t be, a matter of public debate. With the exception of the original scientific study that began the modern anti-vax movement, which used false and fraudulent research to create fear, vaccines have always been part of scientifically established medical practice. They are safe, effective, and necessary for combating the spread of countless viral diseases.

The “do your research and decide what’s right for you” approach that celebrities like Minaj seem to be endorsing is a disingenuous view. It undermines centuries of epidemiology and important work to fight diseases by suggesting that vaccine safety boils down to how you, personally, feel about vaccines. But the question of whether vaccines are safe isn’t up for debate. The answer is simple: yes.

Minaj’s reluctance to say yes is unfortunate — but it’s important to note she’s far from the only celebrity who’s waffled about vaccine efficacy, spread misinformation, or outright rejected the vaccine. Minaj’s tweets are particularly significant, however, because they weren’t totally anti-vax — and because they came at a moment when all eyes were on her because of her absence from the Met Gala. Thus, many, many people saw Minaj presenting personal ambivalence as an alternative to promoting and trusting science and being responsible about getting vaccinated.

We may be making “My cousin in Trinidad” jokes for a long while to come. The unfortunate influence of Minaj’s vaccine resistance could last even longer.


Read full article on: vox.com
Joe Judge promises things are ‘going to get better’ for Giants
Joe Judge won’t be confused for Joe Namath, but he stopped talking about processes long enough to make a promise.
6 m
nypost.com
Nets have designs on spoiling Bucks’ ring celebration
The Bucks defeated the Nets in a classic series en route to their NBA title. Those same Nets will be in the house, watching the champs get their rings.
9 m
nypost.com
Washington State football coach fired for refusing COVID vax
The Washington State Football Coach Nick Rolovich has been fired for refusing to comply with the state’s vaccination mandate.
nypost.com
Fed Chair Powell sold millions in stocks days before October 2020 tank
Jerome Powell sold between $1 million and $5 million in stocks at the beginning of October 2020 before Wall Street had its worst month since the beginning of the pandemic.
nypost.com
Miami private school makes bogus claims about vaccines while ordering pupils who get a shot to stay home for 30 days
A Miami private school, which previously asked teachers not to get the Covid-19 vaccine or they wouldn't be allowed to return this school year, has now asked parents to keep their children home for 30 days if their child has received a vaccine dose, citing false and disproved claims about the impact of the inoculation, according to a letter sent to parents and obtained by CNN affiliate WSVN.
edition.cnn.com
NYC’s murder surge is on the pols, not the pandemic — and they must act
New York City is just one more Grubhub deliveryman, one more Times Square pedestrian, one more subway commuter or one more teenage boy away from a grim milestone: surpassing last year’s murder total, after a record-high increase in 2020.  Last year, many Wise People said, “Don’t worry.” Murder was up because of the pandemic, don’t...
nypost.com
Tennessee Titans OT Taylor Lewan carted off during Buffalo Bills game, being evaluated for concussion
Titans LT Taylor Lewan was carted off the field strapped to a backboard after taking a hit to his head and neck area Monday night against the Bills.       
usatoday.com
Chicago Man Convicted for Designing Computer Script to Spread ISIS Propaganda
The 22-year-old had created a process that would allow ISIS to disseminate propaganda in an easier manner.
newsweek.com
'The Voice': Ariana Grande says she's 'going to quit' after singers nail 'Car Wash'
Ariana Grande is "emotionally very distraught" after two of her singers nailed a rendition of Rose Royce's "Car Wash."      
usatoday.com
Sharks’ Evander Kane suspended 21 games by NHL for reported use of fake vaccine card
Read more
washingtonpost.com
China drafts law to punish parents for children's bad behavior
Parents in China whose young children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes could face punishment under proposed new legislation.
edition.cnn.com
China drafts law to punish parents for children's bad behavior
Parents in China whose young children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes could face punishment under proposed new legislation.
edition.cnn.com
North Korea's Latest Weapons Test Hurls Projectile into Sea of Japan
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to strengthen his country's nuclear capabilities following the departure of former U.S. President Donald Trump.
newsweek.com
Gabby Petito's parents travel to Wyoming to bring her remains home
After heartbreaking and revealing details about the circumstances of her death were announced to the public, Gabby Petito's parents are finally bringing home the remains of their 22-year-old daughter.
edition.cnn.com
Igor Shesterkin backstops Rangers’ OT win with Herculean effort
Igor Shesterkin was spectacular in his second straight start, turning aside 40 of the 41 shots he faced and keeping the Rangers alive
nypost.com
Federal judge rules University of North Carolina can continue race-based admissions
A federal judge ruled that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can continue to use race-based admission practices
foxnews.com
‘We’re Here’ Season 2 Episode 2: Bob, Shangela, and Eureka Spill the Tea on Temecula
Serving you motherly love realness in wine country!
nypost.com
Oil company at center of Orange County spill received millions in federal relief
Beta Offshore received a $20-million "end of life" royalty discount. It also received a $11-million discount because it planned to drill new wells.
latimes.com
Islanders on brink of getting a Matt Martin boost
Matt Martin is likely to return to the Islanders’ Identity Line on Tuesday night against the Blackhawks after missing the first two games of the season with injury.
nypost.com
Video of Joe Manchin Telling Bernie Sanders 'Never Give Up' Viewed Over 123,000 Times
The two senators are haggling over climate change initiatives in Biden's Build Back Better plan. But the plan cannot succeed without either man's vote.
newsweek.com
Midnight runs: Biden secretly flying underage migrants into NY in the dead of night
Planeloads of underage migrants are being flown secretly into suburban New York in an effort by President Biden’s administration to quietly resettle them across the region, The Post has learned.
foxnews.com
Bills take shot at Titans over failed lateral during punt return
The Buffalo Bills threw some shade at the Tennessee Titans on social media after one player was penalized for trying to lateral the ball across the field on a punt.
foxnews.com
Man allegedly kept dead girlfriend in plastic container ‘to remain close to her’
An Arizona man told cops he kept the decomposing body of his teenage girlfriend in a plastic container “because he wanted to remain close to her,” reports said. Daniel Blas Torrealba, 21, and his brother were busted after Phoenix police found the remains of his live-in girlfriend Destiny Munoz, 17, wrapped in plastic and tape...
nypost.com
Trump sits for deposition in lawsuit brought by demonstrators alleging assault
Former President Trump sat for a deposition Monday at Trump Tower in New York City, said an attorney for the plaintiffs suing him over an alleged assault.
abcnews.go.com
Airplane ‘Karen’ uses microphone to rant about pandemic during midflight in viral video
An unruly woman was captured on video ranting into a microphone about the COVID-19 pandemic during a commercial flight.
foxnews.com
FDA to allow Americans ‘mix and match’ COVID vaccine and booster shots
The FDA plans to allow vaccinated Americans to receive a different COVID-19 booster shot from the vaccine they originally received.
nypost.com
Messages sent before kidnapping in Haiti show last location of group
CNN's Matt Rivers examines the last moves of the missionary group that was kidnapped in Haiti, reportedly by the 400 Mawozo gang - a dangerous and well-known group.
edition.cnn.com
Huma Abedin shares moment Anthony Weiner admitted he shared lewd photo of himself igniting scandal: memoir
Longtime Hillary Clinton ally Huma Abedin is revealing the moment her husband Anthony Weiner came clean on the lewd photo he accidentally shared on Twitter, igniting a major political scandal that ultimately helped derail the career of a once-promising Democrat.
foxnews.com
Biden playing a deadly game using secret flights to move migrants
There’s a reason the Biden administration is using secret flights to small airports to move unaccompanied minors who illegally crossed the border.
nypost.com
NBA's Jonathan Isaac calls out media's 'blatant miscarriage of information' about vaccine mandates
Jonathan Isaac, who has been subject to media scrutiny since speaking out about declining to receive the coronavirus vaccine shot, told Fox News on Monday that whether someone gets the jab should be a personal decision.
foxnews.com
Bruno Silva was focused on a finish after third low blow from Andrew Sanchez
Take a look inside's Bruno Silva's knockout win over Andrew Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 195 in Las Vegas.      Related StoriesManon Fiorot not happy she couldn't finish Mayra Bueno Silva at UFC Fight Night 195Danaa Batgerel calls out Frankie Edgar after first-round KO at UFC Fight Night 195Ariane Carnelossi calls out Felice Herrig after UFC Fight Night 195 
usatoday.com
Right-wing media figures dishonestly use Colin Powell's death to question Covid vaccines
Some prominent conservative media figures on Monday dishonestly used the death of former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who died of Covid-19 complications, to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines.
1 h
edition.cnn.com
Manchin, Sanders all smiles, say ‘we’re talking’ about reconciliation bill
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were all smiles as they stood shoulder-to-shoulder outside the Capitol Monday evening.
1 h
nypost.com
Colin Powell remembered as patriot and statesman
Colin Powell, the first Black American to be Joint Chiefs chairman and U.S. secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications at age 84. He was remembered as a patriot and statesman by Democrats and Republicans. (Oct. 18)      
1 h
usatoday.com
Officials: Police officer shot in Lincoln Park
1 h
edition.cnn.com
NYC Board of Health declares racism a public health crisis
The NYC Board of Health declared racism a public health crisis, citing history of slavery and the devastating outcomes for minorities during COVID-19.
1 h
nypost.com
Ousted Miami police chief is pleading with officers to get vaccinated
As Covid-19 vaccine mandates stir controversy in police departments across the country, the recently ousted Miami police chief has pleaded with officers to get vaccinated.
1 h
edition.cnn.com
Shanna Moakler seen out amid Travis Barker and Kourtney Kardashian engagement
Moakler seemingly reacted to news of Barker and Kardashian's engagement by posting the quote “Temporarily closed for spiritual maintenance" to Instagram.
1 h
nypost.com
First lady says the Bidens are "heartbroken" over Colin Powell's death
The former secretary of state and longtime colleague of the president died Monday morning due to complications from COVID-19 at the age of 84.
1 h
cbsnews.com
Red Sox continue grand slam barrage: Kyle Schwarber's Game 3 blast their third in two games
After hitting two grand slams in ALCS Game 2, the Boston Red Sox returned to Fenway Park for Game 3 and got another slam courtesy of Kyle Schwarber.      
1 h
usatoday.com
Youngkin campaign ad uses McAuliffe's words to showcase stance against parents influencing schools
The campaign of Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin has clapped back after his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, accused him of “twisting” the Democrat's words on education.
1 h
foxnews.com
Jets preaching patience, persistence to finally get running game going
After rushing for 152 yards against the Patriots on Sept. 19, the Jets have accumulated just 173 in their past three games.
1 h
nypost.com
Despite 'off week,' Brandon Staley is pleased with Chargers' 4-2 start
The Chargers had one of the NFL's most difficult schedules through six weeks, so rookie coach Brandon Staley is quite pleased with their 4-2 record heading into off week.
1 h
latimes.com
Local Matters: Top democrats campaign for McAuliffe to increase Black voter support in Virginia
As the race for Virginia governor tightens, democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe is making a pitch to the Black voters in the state. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams campaigned for the former Virginia governor over the weekend. Will Weissert, a national political reporter for The Associated Press, joins CBSN's Elaine Quijano to discuss the importance of the demographic in the upcoming election.
1 h
cbsnews.com
Madison Cawthorn: Society 'De-masculates' Men, Parents Should Raise Sons to Be 'Monsters'
Cawthorn cited decreasing testosterone levels as evidence that young men in society are becoming less masculine.
1 h
newsweek.com
Norwegian police say bow-and-arrow attacker likely used other 'stabbing weapons'
The man accused of using a bow and arrows to kill five people and injuring three others in an attack in Norway last week may have used additional “stabbing weapons,” police say.
1 h
foxnews.com
Country Star Travis Tritt Cancels Upcoming Shows Requiring Vaccination, Masks or Testing
Travis Tritt said Monday, "any venue or promoter mandating masks, requiring vaccinations, or pushing COVID testing protocols on my fans will not be tolerated."
1 h
newsweek.com