If you’ve been on social media or follow celebrity culture, you’ve probably seen rapper Nicki Minaj making the rounds. She caused quite a stir online when she tweeted that her cousin, who lives in Trinidad, Spain, refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine because his friend became impotent.
“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,” Minaj wrote to her 22.7 million Twitter followers on Monday.
Medical professionals around the world condemned the post as uninformed. It’s not clear how her words will affect the country’s vaccination campaign.
Addressing Her Concerns
Since posting the tweet, Minaj says she will ultimately get vaccinated in order to go on tour.
The White House says it is aware of the musician’s comments. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that the Biden Administration offered to speak with Minaj about her concerns, but they have yet to hear back from her as to whether she will accept.
“We offered a call with Nicki Minaj and one of our doctors to answer questions she had about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine,” Psaki told reporters. “This is pretty standard and something we do all the time.”
Minaj then tweeted on Wednesday that she has been “invited” to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave to discuss the vaccine, but Psaki pushed back by saying the White House is “not even at the point of discussing…the mechanisms or the format or anything along those lines. It was simply an offer to have a conversation and an early-stage call.”
Psaki defended the administration’s decision to talk with Minaj.
“I would say that if we believed that everybody who had skepticism about the vaccine wasn’t someone we should engage with or talk to, we wouldn’t have made the progress we’ve made,” the press secretary added. “So, part of our strategy and our objective, from the beginning, has been engaging with people who have questions, to help answer their questions.”
Calling Out “False” Claims
Several days after Minaj went public with her concerns, Trinidad and Tobago Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh called her comments “false.”
He added, “One of the reasons why we could not respond yesterday in real-time to Miss Minaj is that we had to check and make sure that what she was claiming was either true or false. Unfortunately, we wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim,” Deyalsingh said.
“As we stand now, there is absolutely no reported such side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad, or I dare say…none that we know of anywhere else in the world,” he added.
The top infectious disease expert in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, also weighed in on her remarks.
“I’m not blaming her for anything, but she should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis except a one-off anecdote, and that’s not what science is all about,” he said.
As for swollen testicles, Fauci said, “There’s no evidence that it happens — nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen, so the answer to your question is no.”
Minaj claims she was locked out of Twitter after posting what could be seen as an incendiary tweet.
“They didn’t like what I was saying over there on that block I guess. Asking questions is OK. I like being fkng dumb then boom. Can’t tweet.”
However, a spokesperson for Twitter denied the claims, saying the company “did not take any enforcement action on the account referenced.”
Minaj added that there are those who are “jumping at the chance” to “attack her personally.”
“It’s disgusting that a person can’t speak about just questions or thoughts they’re having about something they’re going to have to put in their body, that this attack is this hateful and purposeful,” she said. “If I want to ask questions about the vaccine, what’s wrong?”
Minaj’s tweet wasn’t backed up by science, but she will likely continue talking openly about her hesitancy.
The good news is that you shouldn’t have to worry about swollen testicles when getting vaccinated.