Do you like piña coladas? What about getting caught in the rain? Well, if fear of the coronavirus is what’s keeping you from finding someone who also enjoys both, the White House is trying to help.
The nation’s largest dating apps are hoping to make it easier for vaccinated singles to find one another, the White House announced Friday, part of the push to meet the Biden administration’s goal of getting 70% of adults at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 4.
The range of new features will allow users to be able to filter potential matches by their vaccination status, and also gain free access to premium features such as “boosts,” “super likes” and “super swipes.”
“Social distancing and dating were always a bit of a challenging combination,” Andy Slavitt, a White House senior adviser on the COVID-19 response, told reporters on Friday. “So today, dating sites like Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, Match, OKCupid, BLK, Chispa, Plenty of Fish and Badoo are announcing a series of features to encourage vaccinations and help people meet people who have that universally attractive quality: they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.”
The White House is hoping the new initiative will speed up vaccinations, after a decline in the pace of the rollout over the past few weeks. More than 60% of Americans 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 130 million Americans are now fully vaccinated. But the pace of vaccinations has been falling, with the average daily pace of vaccinations down nearly 50% from a peak in April.
Dating apps could offer one path toward turning that trend around. The sites cater to more than 50 million users in the U.S., Slavitt said, noting that research from OKCupid has found people who are vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated receive 14% more matches than those who don’t.
The types of new offerings will vary from site to site. Match, for example, will allow members to add a new “Vaccinated” badge to their profiles and give them a free “boost” to make their profile appear higher up in search results. BLK, the largest dating app for Black singles, will give also offer vaccinated users a boost if they add a “Vaxified” badge to their profiles. Tinder, the dating app with the most U.S. users, will also have vaccinated badges, as well as a new “Vaccine Center” to help connect users with nearby vaccination sites.
The effort to enlist dating apps in the vaccine drive is just one in a series of sometimes unorthodox measures that officials across the country have turned to in order to get more doses into arms. Maine, for example, has offered free hunting licenses to vaccinated residents, while the governor of Ohio has started a $1 million lottery for anyone who’s received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Of course, what is money without true love? As Slavitt joked Friday, “We have finally found the one thing that makes us all more attractive: a vaccine.”