They say legends never die, and that definitely seems to be the case with the 2007 film I Am Legend, starring Will Smith as US Army virologist Robert Neville.
Indeed, vaccine skeptics have given the movie a second life as "evidence" of the danger of vaccines, which in I Am Legend wipe out 99% of the world's population and turn almost everyone else into vampiric mutants.
Except that's not at all what happens in the movie!!!
You see, in I Am Legend, it is a genetically modified measles virus meant to cure cancer — NOT A VACCINE — that turns lethal and pushes humanity to the edge of extinction.
Dr. Neville initially survives not because he refused a vaccine, but because he is immune to the virus, and he devotes the rest of his life to finding a cure.
Cut to the present day, and people are now citing I Am Legend — a fictional movie — as a reason not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for fear of turning into one of these guys.
Why so many people get the movie wrong is a bit of an open question. As Time's Vera Bergengruen points out, far-right internet forums that propagate anti-vaccine conspiracies are partly to blame. For others, however, the Mandela Effect may be the cause.
In fact, even I fell prey to the false memory phenomenon earlier this month. After asking former vaccine skeptics what made them change their mind, I included a response from someone who had also misremembered the film: "If the vaccine turned out to be like the one from I Am Legend," they said, "I’d rather be the vampire than the one running from the vampire. I got my shots a few days after that occurred to me."
While their misunderstanding actually led them to get vaccinated, others' belief that the film supports their anti-vaccine stance points to an even bigger issue: namely, that we shouldn't be making health decisions based on science fiction movies!
It's gotten so bad that the screenwriter behind I Am Legend has had to weigh in. "It's a movie. I made that up," he said Monday on Twitter. "It's. Not. Real."
So there you have it. Coronavirus is real. I Am Legend, which is about a virus and not a vaccine, is not. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective — and they might save your life.
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