Coralynn Gehl is “vaccinated AF,” and she wants the world to know it.
So the West Vancouver mom and accidental COVID activist decided to put that on a T-shirt.
Now she’s started up a line of T-shirts for the vaccinated who can proudly proclaim their status.
Gehl is known locally as the founder of a Facebook page where North Shore parents have been sharing information about school exposures, COVID testing and vaccines for the past year. She said the T-shirt idea started on a whim.
“I was talking to one of my girlfriends, joking about the fact that once you can get vaccinated, I need all my friends to put some sort of sign on the front lawn, so I can drive around the neighbourhood and hug people,” said Gehl.
That got her thinking.
“We're going to get to a point where the people who really want to get vaccinated will be,” she said. “And there will be people who are on the fence, and that’s where social pressure comes in.”
The idea of a T-shirt, proclaiming a vaccinated status, was born.
Gehl said she put together a mock-up and sent it to a few friends, asking if they’d wear it. Most were enthusiastic. But not all. “A couple of them said, ‘No, I’d be too worried that an anti-vaxxer would approach me in public,’” she said.
“At that point I thought, I have to do this.”
As one of those who eagerly signed up for the Astra Zeneca vaccine being offered in pharmacies at the time, Gehl’s first shirt, naturally, was the Generation X vaccine badge #GenXZeneca.
Since then, she’s broadened the sartorial slogans the newly vaccinated can choose from, which now range from a simple “vaccinated” and “vaccinated. (thanks science)” to “vaccinated. older and Pfizer,” along with a couple of cheekier options, including the “vaccinated AF” (suggested by her teenager).
Gehl – who is not usually in the T-shirt business – found a company online that does T-shirt printing and delivery on demand, set up a website and began promoting her vaccinated T-shirts on her local Facebook page. Mostly, people have heard about the shirts through word of mouth, she said. One buyer ordered 14 shirts for gifts.
“I’ve sold a couple hundred so far.”
Gehl said she’s not getting rich off the T-shirts. “I’m not retiring off my T-shirt empire, I can promise,” she said.
The most important thing, she said, is spreading the message that getting vaccinated is cool.
Anti-vaxxers are a relatively small voice, she said, but can be vocal, and amplified by social media.
“People who might be on the fence see it and think it’s a bigger voice than it actually is,” she said.
Gehl said she wanted to do something to counter that.
“We know that vaccines will make things better for all of us,” she said. “It’s that subtle push to people who are on the fence. It’s attempting to create that sense of community like we are all doing this, because we know that it will make things better for all of us.”
Gehl said she’s happy every time someone sends her a selfie featuring one of her “vaccinated” T-shirts.
She added she wears her own T-shirt all the time and looks forward to the day when she sees someone else wearing one in the grocery store. “That person will be in danger of being hugged,” she said.