Latest trendy profile point on dating apps? Vaccine status

Dozens of people on social media have even suggested that a new dating app be created for the vaccinated.
Dozens of people on social media have even suggested that a new dating app be created for the vaccinated.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Dating apps offer a snapshot about a person's life, but in the space of a few weeks, a surprising health issue has emerged as a dealmaker or heartbreaker: have you had the coronavirus vaccine?

Some are bragging they have gotten the shot to better their chances, while others are using it to justify what one singleton described as "the most 2021 rejection ever". But can you trust every lonely heart who claims they've been inoculated against Covid-19?

Scientist Samantha Yammine, who often talks on Twitter about health issues, says she's received messages about "dudes on dating apps claiming they're 'totally safe for close contact'" because they have received the vaccine.

Of course, most young people using dating apps are not in vaccination priority groups, so some see having gotten the shot as a sort of golden ticket for hooking up.

"Basically, getting the vaccine is the hottest thing you could be doing on a dating app right now," said Mr Michael Kaye, global communications manager for OkCupid.

When asked last Monday, 43 per cent of some 1,500 members of another site, Coffee Meets Bagel, said they were more attracted to someone who had been vaccinated.

Journalist Sarah Kelly, who has not been able to get the shot, said she really got "the most 2021 rejection ever". A man on a dating site wrote her: "Ur real cool however I found someone who is also Vaccinated!!"

Dozens of people on social media have even suggested - some jokingly, others in the spirit of entrepreneurship - that a new dating app be created for the vaccinated. Those who haven't been jabbed with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna elixirs need not log in.

Ms Kimberly Te, who hasn't been inoculated yet, was contacted by one guy who emphasised he had received his first dose. But for her, that status is not that important.

"I wouldn't really care if someone on an online app said they were vaccinated because for the most part, I don't know these people, so I have no reason to trust them during this pandemic."

For university student Brittany Biggerstaff, people who say they are vaccinated are not more attractive because of the shot - but it does mean they have put their faith in science. "It gives insight on a potential partner's political views and knowledge about science and medicine," she said.

Ms Dawoon Kang, the co-founder of Coffee Meets Bagel, agrees. "It kind of signals that this is somebody who actually is being careful with Covid-19, which probably gives people a little bit more peace of mind," she said.

Vaccination or not, after nearly a year of living in some degree of social isolation because of coronavirus restrictions, some people are eager to get out there.

"People are more active this Valentine's Day than ever before," said OkCupid's Mr Kaye.

Since the pandemic took hold in the United States, dating sites have been forced to innovate, offering more video chat options, which had not been a major feature, and more virtual happy hour mixers.

For Ms Kang, whose site Coffee Meets Bagel encourages the forging of "authentic connections", the pandemic has been a "wake-up call" for many. Among the platform's users, more than 90 per cent say they want to meet a long-term partner, she says, noting: "That's the highest we've ever had."