- The Washington Times - Friday, May 21, 2021

Looks may be important, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts — especially if there are antibodies floating around in there.

Dating apps are responding to President Biden’s plea for companies to promote COVID-19 vaccination whenever possible. Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble and other apps will offer badges and graphics that make it clear if a potential match is immunized and offer free premium content, such as “super swipes,” to vaccinated persons.

They’re installing filters so that users can screen for who’s been vaccinated, while in-app promotions will direct users to vaccine.gov so they can find shots near them.

“These sites cater to almost 50 million people in the U.S. and are some of the world’s biggest non-gaming apps,” Biden adviser Andy Slavitt said. “We have finally found the one thing that makes us all more attractive — a vaccination.”

Fact sheets on the program do not detail a way to verify vaccination status. Rather, the initiative is built on the kind of honor system that guides new mask guidance and trusts people to tell the truth about their relative risk within society.

The White House announced the partnership as part of Mr. Biden’s push to get a vaccine dose in at least 70% of U.S. adults by July 4. The country is at slightly over 60% of adults now.

The partnership comes as states are reopening and people are looking to mingle after being cooped up at home over the past year.

“While it is kind of a funny thing to talk about, the truth of the matter is people do want to get back to their normal lives, they do have questions about making sure they can do that safely,” Mr. Slavitt said.

OkCupid says people who are vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated get 14% more matches than people who don’t plan to get the shots. As of Monday, OkCupid users can add an “I’m Vaccinated” badge and search by vaccination status when the app’s campaign starts Monday.

Bumble and Badoo also announced badges and premium offers, while BLK — the largest dating app for Black singles — while letting people know who is “Vaxified” as of June 1 and Chispa, an app for Latinos, will highlight who is “Vacunado.”

Hinge will let users share their vaccination status and give others a “Rose” for getting the shots and Match will give vaccinated users a “boost” to help them stand out on the app.

The Plenty of Fish app will add an “I Got My Shot” badge and premium content in early June.

It is the latest instance of people sorting themselves by vaccination status.

COVID-19 shots aren’t mandated by any government, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said fully vaccinated people should feel free to ditch their masks in most indoor settings.

The abrupt move made naked faces a public symbol of vaccination — or a way for unvaccinated persons to make others think they got the shots.

Professional baseball stadiums in New York are sorting fans into vaccinated and unvaccinated sections, with immunized fans allowed to pack together without social distancing. The New York Yankees kick off the practice Friday as they host the Chicago White Sox and the New York Mets will begin Monday.

Officials on Friday said the U.S. vaccination campaign continues to wrangle down the virus. Daily cases average 28,000, a decrease of 19% from the prior seven-day average. Daily hospital admissions are down 15% from the prior week and the daily average of deaths is around 500, a 10% decrease.

Officials said people should still be incentivized to get vaccinated.

“We are seeing improvements because people have in fact gotten vaccinated,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. “But if we stop where we are right now, if people do not get fully vaccinated — there are millions more out there who still need to — then we will still be at risk, potentially, for more infections in the future.

“We are absolutely heading in the right direction,” he said. “We can’t take our foot off the accelerator.”

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