Obama sets a good example

By Phil Plait | December 21, 2009 5:09 pm

I love a President who gets it. In general, science, and in particular, vaccinations:


Yeah, he got his novel H1N1 vaccination, just like my daughter did a few hours ago, and just like I will as soon as they are available for adults in my area.

MORE ABOUT: H1N1, Obama, vaccinations

Comments (94)

  1. T.E.L.

    Yeah, but his results will be atypical. He gets “President-Grade” meds from a special secret stock. There’s an entire Presidential pharmaceutical research lab in the basement of the White House. New meds for the President are tested on prisoners.

  2. SkepTTic

    Pic looks doctored. Obviously his head is pasted on! :)

  3. Tut, tut, tut. It’s just a picture of someone holding a syringe near him. How do we know he *really* got a shot?! And if there’s a video? Well, pish-tush, obviously the syringe is filled with saline solution, not OMGWTFBBQ DANGEROUS vaccine! 😉

  4. Brian T.

    T.E.L. – Without a smirky smiley face, it’s hard to tell whether you’re being serious or not. Poe’s Law and all that.

  5. Wait, isn’t that Ann Coulter?

  6. gski

    It would be nice to see all 535 members of congress lined up on the steps of the capitol and getting their vaccinations.

  7. Moose

    Got mine on the 5th. Thirty five minutes later, including the 15 minute wait to see if I would drop dead of autism, I was walking home. Even had time to go out for lunch and get groceries.

  8. T.E.L.

    Brian T.:

    First, I was joking. Second, What of it if I wasn’t?

  9. Placebo.

    But it sorta fits right in.

  10. Brian T.

    T.E.L. – Good to know. If you weren’t joking, I don’t know what I would even say. It seems like every other day I hear opinions that are so insane I have to ask follow up questions to determine whether people actually believe what they’re saying.

    It makes sense in personal conversations, so I’ll know whether to play along and make more jokes, or just walk away.

  11. My area finally has H1N1 for anybody who wants it. Just in time for the holidays!

  12. Cairnos

    @ TEL

    Even if you weren’t joking it still wouldn’t hold any water. If it was discovered it would cause a major decline in vaccination rates and they WANT everyone to get vaccinated. Besides it wouldn’t matter to him since the vaccine was developed from the same hybridised human/reptillian cell lines that were used to create the shapechanging hybrids like Bush and Obama so they will already be immune to the lethal interaction of the “vaccine” with the soon to be release “swine flu”.

  13. Gavin Flower

    Obviously Vaccinations are a Democrat practice, so all that good Republicans will avoid inoculations – must do the Health thing by party lines – no room for independent thought!

  14. Al

    why are they doing it in an ophthalmologist’s cabinet? there’s a chart for eye exams on the wall…

  15. Selasphorus

    Hey, I got mine today, too!

  16. T.E.L.

    I forgot to mention that the prisoners used for testing Pres-Meds are chosen from the political detainees who populate “the camps”.

  17. I hope the healthcare bill provides funds for replacing those curtains.

  18. @T.E.L. #15: Well, it’s either that or face the death panels.

  19. Chem undergrad


    Poor man, having to get it in a syringe (I HATE needles). I got mine by nasal spray a few weeks ago.

  20. I went to get my H1N1 shot today, but they didn’t have any preservative free vaccine. I, sadly, am actually allergic to the preservative. My last experience with it was back when they put it in contact lens solutions. Made my eyes swell shut. I’ve been advised to avoid it. I tried, though :-)

  21. Travis

    “My area finally has H1N1 for anybody who wants it. Just in time for the holidays!”

    That’s good. We still don’t have enough for the kids and immunocompromised. Only having one “for profit” hospital that’s decided H1N1 isn’t worth bothering with (except for their staff) is a real stinker. Makes me yearn for the days before Libertarians took over all the local politics and shut down the public hospital and all the clinics.

  22. Ron

    … H1N1 for anybody who wants it …

    It’s no laughing matter. My family and I endured H1N1 in November and it was NASTY for my 16 year old son and me (but very mild for my wife and 14 year old son). It took about a month to run its course and during the first seven days I couldn’t get out of bed! While I thought it was probably the worst flu I’d ever had (I’m 50), my doctor said it was relatively mild. I’m glad I have full medical benefits at work and my week long absence was fully paid leave. I wouldn’t want to be without benefits.

    As for vaccinations, free clinics for non-priority (ie. chronic illness, pregnancy, etc.) people started about a week AFTER we got sick and shots were available for everyone else a few weeks later.

    Surprisingly, there are still a lot of people who refuse to get vaccinated. Thank god I live in Canada where even dumb people can readily get free access to the full range of treatments necessary to save their lives should they be severely affected by H1N1.

  23. Matt

    I know that it sets a good example and sends a good message to the people, but honestly I feel like washington leadership should have gotten in on the first batch. Yes, most of them are not in the at-risk groups, but they do work that is important to the future of the whole country and it’s better for everyone if they’re not laid out with the flu. Especially the president who needs to be clear-headed in the event of a national security emergency.

    Great sentiment, not skipping the line and thereby denying a dose that could have gone to a kid or a pregnant woman, but sometimes being selfish isn’t really selfish. Sadly the political reality is that regardless of who the president is, the other side would paint him as “stealing a vaccine from your kids”.

    Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if that shot wasn’t just some saline or B12 or something…and they slipped him the real thing a while back.

  24. Good move by publicly getting a vaccination.

    Sounds as though he’s kinda cussed up at Copenhagen though.

  25. cmflyer

    Seasonal flu shot for me, both for my wife, who’s in county health care. My son had early flu supposedly H1N1, but it was mild. It swept through the high school where I teach and my son attends, but the last month has been relatively quiet. Maybe the flu scare changed hygiene habits for the better.

  26. Dan I.

    Oh boy.

    Has anyone noticed that there seems to be an overlap between the people who scream about vaccinations and the people who scream that Obama is a Kenyan born Muslim Terrorist?

    Clearly THIS will do a lot of dissuade those fears.

    Still though, at least we aren’t running so short that we can’t even vaccinate the PRESIDENT.

  27. So the Little Astronomer, President Obama, and myself all got our H1N1 vaccinations on the same day? (I got my seasonal flu shot two months ago but the swine flu vaccine wasn’t available; when I got my H1N1 vaccine today, the seasonal was unavailable–not that I needed it–go figure!) I’m honored to be in such eminent company! :-)

  28. I’ve never seen that version of the Army uniform, but if that’s a Major’s oak leaf on her collar, then her nickname can only be… “Hotlips” 😉

  29. zeroeye

    Britney Spears is giving vaccinations now?

  30. Hey, I would get a shot too if my doctor looked like his.

  31. Travis

    @ 26

    Exactly. Birthers and anti-vaxxers did not arrive at their opinions through logic. So while this might seem to be bad for them, that is only apparent to a logical person. To them Obama is just getting a vitamin shot…..no doubt before he orders more people who can out him as a Kenyan to be “disappeared.”

  32. Justus

    Mmm, I like the nurse.

    Am I allowed to say such earthly things here?

  33. Kevin

    @28 Dennis. It’s not an Army uniform. If you click on the photo, you can embiggen it and you will see it’s just a lapel pin. But “Hotlips” fits. (Of course, that shows one’s age, ya know) :)

    I got my H1N1 shot back the first of November, because I’m in a high risk category. The only side effect….

    It turned me into a zombie. Braaaaaiiiiinnnnssss!!!!!

    (or, if I were a theoretical physicist, it would say “Branes.”) 😀

  34. Levi in NY

    Uh-oh, my eyesight is going. I can’t read anything below line 5 on the chart in the background there.

  35. How big is this pandemic at this point? Any numbers?

  36. 30. Jerry Critter Says:

    Hey, I would get a shot too if my doctor looked like his.

    I don’t think I’d even mind ‘prostate exams’….

    don’t go there….



  37. 30. Jerry Critter Says:

    Hey, I would get a shot too if my doctor looked like his.

    I don’t think I’d even mind ‘prostate exams’….

    don’t go there….



  38. Patrick

    Man, the poor guy has really aged in the past year. It really is the curse of the presidency.

  39. Who else was initially shocked to see Rachel Zoe giving the President a shot? Please say it wasn’t just me?

    Oh well. Good on you Barack, I’m patiently awaiting my turn for the vaccine… but I have a tendency to pass out at the sight of needles. I hope I get *that* nurse to catch me before I hit the deck 😉

  40. Rahm

    “Has anyone noticed that there seems to be an overlap between the people who scream about vaccinations and the people who scream that Obama is a Kenyan born Muslim Terrorist?”
    Yeah like Bobby Kennedy.
    Actually the anti-vaccination crowd is rampant on the left (a thing called google, use it) the same one who thought President Bush was in charge of a 9/11 inside job.
    Funny how Obama getting a vaccination merits a picture and entry yet when Bush got vaccination not a peep. When Bush did it it must have been “anti-science” because there is no political bias here!
    Independent thought, instead of giving it lip service actually try it!

  41. Elmar_M

    I already got mine a while ago!
    Way to go Obama! At least someone who does what he preaches.

  42. Wonderful. Though I’ve found Obama to be a bit of a lame duck (if you will) I am very happy to see him endorse science.

  43. Great to see this photo… It would be great if politicians from all around the world would do this.

    Anyway here in Romania things are going quite bad with the vaccination program. We have a locally produce AH1N1 vaccine, a great… clean vaccine… that just sits in the warehouses because people heard so many rumors: autism, cancer, manufactured virus, grown on human tissue etc…

    I have done the vaccine two weeks ago, and thankfully… I managed to show to many others that all is ok…

  44. Alex

    I’m a 21 year old college student and am happy to say that I’ve gotten my H1N1 as well as seasonal flu vaccinations recently (and have managed to talk others into doing the same! 😀 ). And in the words of Monty Python- I’m not dead yet!
    And yeah, two points for Obama!!

  45. Andrew

    What a crock. Shyeah, he’s a swell guy…..He’s just won the Nobel Peace prize…Meanwhile back at the ranch 30000 more troops enter Afghanistan to fight the “war on terror”, that the very man he ousted from the White House manufactured along with his industrial military war machine.

  46. Chuang Tse

    “Did I fall asleep?”
    “For a little while…”

  47. Not that I am against vaccinations (I regularly get my tick and tetanus vaccinations), but at least here in Austria this whole swine flu hype was highly exaggerated (maybe even pushed by the pharma industry?). I didn’t get a vaccination yet and I don’t plan to get one. From what I’ve read it’s no more lethal than the regular yearly influenza (which I’ve never got a vaccination before either).

  48. Michelle

    When I got mine I was a bit creeped out… There were like 10 nurses, didn’t even have gloves… and there was this one and only nurse had gloves and a mask on.

    …Of course, that’s the one that gave me my shot.

  49. Wow, so many “odd” comments on this post.

    – I don’t think she’s a major. That’s not an Oak Leaf, but rather a green and gold hexagon of some type.
    – Deaths DIRECTLY attributed to H1N1 are at about 10,000. The thing that is hard to track are the other complications that could bring about death and be attributed to something else (as is generally the case in most flu deaths).
    – Another thing about this virus is the effect it has on the young. It is particularly virulent to them.
    – Obama promised to pull out of Iraq, not Afghanistan. I know as Americans we suck at geography, but come on, even an Amercian should be able to tell those are two different countries.

  50. shawmutt

    “That’s not an Oak Leaf, but rather a green and gold hexagon of some type.”

    She’s a NWO major. Duh.

    My family endured what was most likely H1N1 early on. My daughter got the worst of it, with 104 degree fever and a trip to the emergency room. Even though we probably had it, the pediatrician recommended the vaccine anyway. It wouldn’t hurt anything and may help us if we didn’t actually have it previously. Me, my wife, and son got the FluMist. My daughter, who’s one, got the shot.

    Unfortunately due to shortages in the area my kids only got the first half of the dose, but I’m happy they have some immunity before the holidays.

  51. Marius vanderLubbe

    “Just lift up one of the scales, honey, and slide it in. You will need an 18 gauge, because of the tracking device. Got any rats?”

    Needle chick;
    “I for one, welcome our reptilian overlords.”

  52. ZERO

    *face goes green*

    I hate needles!

  53. Michelle R

    @ZERO: Me too. A LOT. I get cold sweats out of it. But you just gotta look elsewhere, take deep slow breaths, relax and within 5 seconds it’ll be over. It’ll be nothing more than a prick. I could pinch you harder than that.

    The actual sting hurts only if you get tense and look.


  55. cambrico

    Unfair Presidential prerogatives!!!
    When I was a child the nurse that innoculated us was scarier than smallpox.

  56. I got mine on Friday, and I’m not autistic yet, maybe I should’ve asked for more Mercury in my shot, huh?

    Also yes… very good-looking nurse.

  57. John Sandlin

    Yeah, I got my vaccinations as soon as they were available to us. I received the regular seasonal flu vax a few weeks ago, H1N1 last week. I learned a while back that if you can completely relax your arm, you’ll barely feel the shot – at least for flu shots.

    Regarding that eye chart, my family physician has one in his office. Actually, it’s in a hallway so you can actually stand 20 feet from it.

  58. justcorbly

    Got mine yesterday. Still human.

    After H1N1 killed a previously healthy local 18-year-old after a long stay in intensive care, her lead physician said anyone who avoids the vaccine is “nuts”.

  59. Gus Snarp

    My son just got his second dose. The pregnant wife is also vaccinated. I just wish I could get mine on the grounds that I will be the parent of an infant in about two months and don’t know what vaccine availability will be like then.

  60. Deepsix

    My son had H1N1 a couple of months ago. I was at my desk at work when one of the managers asked me about his symptoms. I described them to her. She stated she was concerned because her daughter had not been feeling well for a couple of weeks. I was out of work to stay home with my son the next day (Thursday). When I came back the next day, I had an email from her stating that it was confirmed that her daughter did indeed have H1N1. It was only moments later that we got news that her daughter had died. It was apparently a combination of the flu and a bacterial infection. She was 12 years old. Get vaccinated.

  61. Jay

    How about treating needle phobias with acupuncture?

  62. Gus Snarp

    @35. vanderleun


    According to the New York Times the latest numbers are: 50 million infections, 213,000 hospitalizations, and 10,000 deaths in the United States since April. I think that’s probably the high end estimate, the article is a bit unclear on that. Of course, all God-fearing conservatives know that the Times is just a bunch of Socialist progaganda. 😉

  63. Calli Arcale

    It’s somewhat of a consolation that Obama, who isn’t in a high risk category (though I think a national security argument could have fairly been made), had to wait until now as well. My hubby hasn’t been able to get his yet; he’s hoping to get it next week. I pled asthma to get mine a couple of weeks ago. 😉 Oddly, my daughter’s ADHD/PDD-NOS made the clinic consider her a high risk category. ZOMG!!! Autism makes you eligible for H1N1 vaccinations!!!


    Kudos to Obama, not only for doing it, but for making an example of himself.

    Al Says:

    why are they doing it in an ophthalmologist’s cabinet? there’s a chart for eye exams on the wall…

    Most primary care doctor’s (and even nurse’s) offices have eyecharts on the wall, actually, at least here in the US.

  64. FriendlyPrimate

    Fox News headline story #1: Here’s the president getting the vaccine while millions of God-fearing patriotic American children still haven’t gotten theirs yet. There’s another person who used to do things like that….Hitler. Now I’m not comparing Obama to Hitler, but it does make you think.

    Fox News headline story #2: Notice how the president waited until it was certain that the vaccine was totally safe. He essentially used the God-fearing patriotic American people as guinea pigs. There’s another person who used to do things like that….Hitler. Now I’m not comparing Obama to Hitler, but it does make you think.

  65. bk

    don’t get me wrong, im all for vacsines, but idont get the hole need for a flu shot… its been months now, and i still dont know all that many who actually contracteded the virus…

    i’d get it if i was in any of the categories who was prioritized because of their weakened condition

    i’m healthy and therefore i wont get the shot…

  66. JJB

    This pic is totally doctored … No pun intended. Just look at the skin color of the arm … ummm. Then look at the head size to the rest of the body. The “head does not fit”. BTW- You want to know I’m right – go look at his Hawaii pic when we see more of his bod then we need to.

    Phil – I appreciate your spirit, I really do – But even you should have caught this pic was doctored. You let me down dude – you let me down!

  67. The vaccine’s still only being given to high-risk groups in my area. I’m waiting patiently for it to be available for healthy folks like me, which I hope is soon.


    Keep in mind that vaccination not only protects you, but it also protects those around you. If you come in contact with someone who is not immune, particularly those who are in high risk groups (e.g., on the bus, in line at the store, in the doctor’s office, etc.), you can pass the virus on to them. If you are immunized, it is far less likely that you will contract the disease and pass it along. Also bear in mind that if you are infected, you will be contagious several days before you begin to show symptoms, as well as for a time after symptoms subside.

  68. Thomas Siefert

    Last line on the eye chart says “Paul is dead” and I can just make out “28 If” on the computer screen.

  69. tjm220

    My girls and I got our H1N1 shots late October when they first became available in Alberta though we did have to wait in line for 4 hours which isn’t too much fun with a toddler. With all the confusion and poor rollout planning by our government we seemed to have missed all the autism causing shots.

  70. Yojimbo

    Wish we could get that stuff in our area. H1N1 is still only available here for high risk people (I’m not) – though they are providing vaccinations free now for high-risk uninsured who can’t afford it. We also have no seasonal flu vaccine and are “unlikely” to get any. But I will keep looking – otherwise this will be the first year in many that I have not gotten the shot. There seems to be a real problem in the distribution system – we have whole cities where people could get it but won’t, and cities where people want it and can’t get it.

  71. Ubermoogle

    I’m surprised how delayed the vaccine is for you guys compared to here in Canada. We have some clinics here in Calgary closing down because there is almost no demand for them (because all the people who want to get the vax have already had it).

  72. @Ubermoogle

    I think part of the issue may be because the U.S. chose not to use adjuvants, meaning the supply won’t go nearly as far as it could have.

  73. Vaccinations are already over in Quebec. My then 10 months old kid got his shot, my wife did as soon as she learned she was pregnant and I got it when it was my turn two weeks ago. Yay!

    US is stupid to choose not to use adjuvants. It is proven that adjuvants not only provoke a better immune response but also helps prevent infections by variations in the virus strain and not only this particular H1N1 strain.

  74. JJB

    U know the other thing that bother’s me about this pic? Obama in a clinic. Ya, right. They would bring the shot to him in the W.H.

    Phil – you really needed to do some “Bad Astronomy – Why this picture does not work”.

  75. Unfortunately it won’t change anybody’s mind at all.

  76. JJB

    Okay – I thought I had seen this photo b/4 – Phil … it took me less then 5 minutes to find the exact girl – and guy in this photo – STOCK – and it’s NOT Obama! So let’s see you take a few minutes and find the same exact photo! LMAO … this is too funny.

  77. And yet, JJB (78) you didn’t post a link. That’s some real fine sleuthing there, Lou.

  78. JB of Brisbane

    JJB says,”Obama in a clinic. Ya, right. They would bring the shot to him in the W.H.”

    He’s the president, not the emperor. He can get his shot wherever he likes.

  79. DLC

    Obviously Obama is having the injection to activate his NWO-Installed Neural Activation Chip, which will allow the Serpent faction to track his whereabouts at all times. . .

  80. JJB

    Phil – there is a reason I did not – I told you to go find it! Geesh, it took me all of 5 minutes. I was curious if you had the courage to check for yourself. By the way – the skin of the arm matches the skin of the real face… that also will be clue.

    Phil – I’m sorry – did you expect me to treat you with “Red Carpet”? Really?

  81. Cl1mh4224rd

    JJB (83) Says: “Phil – there is a reason I did not – I told you to go find it!”

    That’s not how it works, buddy. If you want to play with the grown-ups, you have to show them that you can support yourself.

    BYOE: Bring Your Own Evidence

  82. DeeLite

    Searching on Obama for images turn up over 125,000,000 in Google Image search.
    It would help for you to be more specific

    Of course, its not a stock photo and the whole thing was video tape. Aired on this morning news. This is a photo supplement the actual video of the news story.

  83. DeeLite

    Also, what does his arm color have to do with the color of the skin on his face.

    YOU do know that its normal to have darker skin on the FACE due to it being EXPOSED to sunlight. this is a man who wears SUITS with long sleeves and slacks, on a daily basis.

    I used to go surfing everyday during my college years. I turned so brown that I was 6 shades darker than the skin on my body.

    Currently my arms are darker than the skin on my shoulders (about 3 shades darker)

  84. John Sandlin

    JJB, I tried for an hour to find your alleged “original” I gave up. I don’t think it exists.

    1) There is absolutely no reason for the White House to fake the photo.
    2) There is nothing about that photo that shouts out fake.
    3) It’s easy to make a claim and tell us to find the evidence for ourselves.

    To the best of my knowledge that photo is authentic, taken in the White House clinic, of the actual President of the United States, Barrack Obama, getting the H1N1 vaccination by a nurse on the White House medical staff.

    Your saying otherwise is all baloney unless you can pony up. Give us the advantage of your tubular guruness and let us see the evidence you claim exists. I call your bluff. It does not exist.


  85. ZERO

    @ Michelle R # 55

    No, thanks! You try it!

  86. ND

    The reason the photo looks a bit odd is that Obama’s neck looks very short, but that’s because he has his shoulders raised in the split second the photo was taken.

    JJB is a trolling lier.

    Here’s the original size of the photo if anyone wants to really analyse it.


  87. Why did he wait so long? You’d think that presidents would be pretty high on the list of important people to be vaccinated first, even above health care workers.

    Then again, maybe he wanted to wait until everybody could get the vaccine, so as not to appear “elitist” or whatever. In this case, I think it’s ok for arguably the most important person in the world to get vaccinated before others!

  88. Erwin

    “JJB is a trolling lier.”

    He is a tad silly indeed.

  89. T.E.L.


    No one here needs a red carpet. All we need is references. You don’t have any? That’s ok; no one here desperately needs to believe a word you say. You’re the attention whore in this group.

  90. Alwimo

    The 4,096 x 2,731 pixel version of that photo (1.5MB): http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/4204626110/sizes/o/ (with other sizes selectable).

    Pretty cool. :)

  91. John Keller


    Tick Tock. We are waiting for your proof.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar