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Congresswoman Lauren Boebert Posts Dangerously Incorrect Analogy Comparing Vaccines To Tylenol

Photo: Lauren Boebert
Lauren Boebert

Vaccine misinformation has been propagating since before the vaccines were even given emergency approval by the FDA. 

Now, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert is now the latest in a long line of conservative politicians and commentators to spread dangerous vaccine misinformation with this new “hot take.”

And though she has been the object of widespread mockery online, her comments reflect a dangerous undercurrent of COVID-19 misinformation that is still spreading.

What did Lauren Boebert say about COVID-19 vaccines?

"I woke up with a headache this morning. I took some Tylenol," she tweeted, "Now if everyone else could take some Tylenol too so mine would start working, that would be great."

The tweet seemed to be intending to show how the argument in favor of mass vaccination doesn’t seem to apply to the way that the pain reliever Tylenol works.

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Somehow this is supposed to be a jab at the health professionals that are advocating for population wide vaccination. Evidently Representative Boebert needs this explained to her so let’s break it down.

Vaccines are the most powerful tool in public health for eradicating diseases, full stop.

Little else humanity has ever created can hold a candle to vaccines when it comes to dealing with dangerous communicable diseases.

This is because of a very simple principle; reducing the spread of an illness reduces the number of people that catch the illness and fewer people die.

This effect is multiplicative, meaning that the more people that get the vaccine the fewer hosts the illness can jump to and the less the chance there is of people dying and new strains emerging.

Boebert is taking the common vaccine wisdom, that vaccines are most effective when used on a population wide level, and misinterpreting it as though the individual benefits of the vaccines are tied to how many other people are taking it.

While Covid vaccines are highly effective and important for protecting oneself against severe illness due to Covid, they will not necessarily be effective against all future strains.

One of the most important reasons to have the vast majority of the population vaccinated is to minimize the likelihood of a new strain emerging that is resistant to the vaccines. The fundamental misunderstanding that Congresswoman Boebert seems to have is that you’re supposed to take Tylenol to mitigate your own minor pain symptoms.

You take vaccines to help eradicate illnesses.

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Covid-19 is still killing people.

Covid is still killing people and now, more than ever, children are at risk. Ever since the vaccine rollout for adults and the return to school, children have proportionally made up more and more of reported cases. Most recently children made up over a quarter of all reported cases in the United States.

With Pfizer preparing to make a vaccine available for children it’s more important than ever to make sure to call out misinformation like Congresswoman Boebert’s tweet and use them as an opportunity to inform those who might be hesitant about the Covid vaccines.

The next front in the battle against Covid will be over the immunization of the youngest members of our population and we cannot let them down.

Lauren Boebert’s ignorance (willful or otherwise) is only going to prolong the Covid-19 pandemic and increase its body count.

We cannot allow our children to become the hosts for the next, unpredictable strain of Covid-19.

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Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics and social justice and has worked with Covid-19 cases since June 2020.