Nicki Minaj arrives for the Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019 in New York City.
Gilbert Carrasquillo | GC images | Getty Images
Nicki Minaj faced a public backlash Tuesday after tweeting the day before that a friend of her cousin’s developed swollen testicles and impotence after vaccinating against Covid-19.
In a series of tweets on Monday, the ten-time Grammy-nominated rap artist told fans she wouldn’t get immunized until she did enough research and advised them to wear masks and record the footage when they were up for work required are. Minaj skipped this year’s Met Gala, which enforced a vaccination mandate, and said she generally avoids public events because she has a new baby at home.
Minaj said she was filming a video and preparing for the Video Music Awards, which aired on Sunday when she was caught Covid earlier this year and had to be quarantined by her young son for a week.
However, most people picked up on her comments about their cousin’s boyfriend, which many criticized as disseminating false information.
MSNBC national correspondent Joy Ann Reid criticized Minaj: “You have 22 million followers on Twitter. If you use your platform to encourage our community not to protect themselves and save their lives, by God, sister, you can do better. ”
Minaj hit Reid on Twitter, shared the news clip, and used a racial slur to insult Reid, who is also black.
Doctors were quick to point out that whatever Minaj’s relative’s friend was suffering from were not any known side effects from the injections.
“We are all human and we tend to associate things,” said Dr. Arturo Casadevall, Chair of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CNBC. He noted that swollen testicles and impotence were not side effects of the vaccine. “So often things are connected that have nothing to do with each other, and with this person the connection is very strong. But that’s what we have science for. “
Casadevall said the symptoms Minaj’s cousin’s friend was experiencing were “almost certainly” unrelated to the vaccines and the timing was just a fluke.
Minaj skipped the Met Gala in New York City on Monday night, which enforced vaccination requirements for guests. She replied to a fan who noticed that Minaj hadn’t performed in public for over a year and said that she avoided traveling to protect her young son’s health.
In a subsequent tweet, Minaj said she was “sure” that she would eventually get vaccinated in order to go on tour. Attempts to reach Minaj’s representative were unsuccessful.
Vaccine reluctance is widespread across the country, a recent survey by CNBC / Change Research found, and it’s a major barrier to achieving the herd immunity that experts believe is necessary to curb future Covid spikes in the U.S. over the side effects of the vaccine, while another 34% said their suspicions about the federal government made them reluctant to get vaccinated.
Debunking misinformation through talking to vaccine reluctants is essential to building public trust, Casadevall said.
“These vaccines are extremely safe,” said Casadevall, noting that the risks of the vaccines’ side effects are significantly lower than the health risks of the virus. “Covid, on the other hand, is deadly, unpredictable.”
And for anyone like Minaj who wants more research into the available vaccines before arranging a vaccination appointment, Casadevall suggested contacting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
“I don’t think doing research on the Internet or reading Twitter posts or anything like that is research,” said Casadevall. “Research means looking at the problem systematically.”