Single Australians looking for sex or love will soon stand out from the competition if they have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Dating app Bumble announced that it will roll out a new feature this week that allows users in Australia and New Zealand to add a “vaccination tag” to their profile if they have received a Covid-19 jab. Competitor Tinder says it looks forward to “making [vaccine] badges soon available ”also in Australia.
A Bumble representative says it will not independently verify vaccination status for those claiming the badge, meaning the system will rely on the honesty of the user. The dating app says it decided to launch the feature after a recent survey revealed a “45% increase in users who asked potential dates if they had the vaccine or had Covid symptoms”.
It’s not just in Australia that dating apps are urging users to brag about their vaccination status. In the US, the White House recently partnered with Tinder, Hinge and OKCupid to provide premium features like free “super likes” – which increase your chances of being noticed by a potential date – to users who set their vaccination status.
Last month, the UK Department of Health and Social Care launched a similar initiative by teaming up with dating apps to offer users a range of perks, including free profile “boosts”, if they add their vaccination status to their profile. Both schemes aim to promote vaccine use in young people.
Currently, only 11% of Australians are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. In late June, all Australian adults under 40 were told by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that they could get the AstraZeneca vaccine through their GPs. However, the advice from the expert in the Australian Technical Advisory Group on immunization is that Pfizer jab is the preferred option for under 60s – and that the vaccine is still limited.
Australian online dating site RSVP says vaccine badges are something the company has been considering, but they will wait until more Australians have been vaccinated before bringing the feature in.
“The reason we have not pushed anything forward is just looking at the number of people who have access to vaccines,” explains CEO Dave Heysen. “So we do not really want to discriminate when people do not actually have access [to the vaccine] at this stage.
“We have considered adding it at some point; we just want to make sure everyone is on equal footing first. ”
The addition of vaccine labels can make users feel comfortable meeting dates in real life, says Dr. Rosalie Gillett, a postdoctoral fellow at Queensland University of Technology who has researched user safety on dating apps.
“Since dating apps often encourage interaction with each other, users may feel more secure meeting people who say they have been vaccinated against Covid-19,” says Gillett.
Joanne Orlando, author of Life Mode On, a book about navigating the digital world, agrees that vaccination brands are “definitely a plus” when it comes to Covid security. But the feature can also have another benefit: helping users match those whose values match their own.
“Vaccination tags give you a little more insight into the profile and the person,” she says. “It gives you an idea of how they think about contributing to society, doing their part, and if [their vaccination status] is something they all want to know about and are proud of. It’s just another element that helps you consider whether this person is something for you. ”
Does this mean that badges can help socially conscious singles avoid matching with anti-waxers?
“That’s right, or if you’re one, you do not want to go after someone who has that stamp.” Says Orlando. “When it comes to online dating, there is such a limited amount of information right up there that this kind of thing can really help someone.
“It just adds another dimension that we don’t normally get with dating app profiles.”