Swipe right! White House partners with dating apps to encourage vaccination

The dating app Tinder is shown on a mobile phone in this picture illustration
FILE PHOTO: The dating app Tinder is shown on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken September 1, 2020. Picture taken September 1, 2020. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/Illustration

May 24, 2021

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Want to know if your next new love interest has been vaccinated against COVID-19? Just check your favorite app.

The White House has partnered with popular online dating platforms such as Match, Tinder and Bumble to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated against the virus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone.

With restrictions loosening across the country as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths decline, people are increasingly getting back to some semblance of normalcy in their lives, including dating.

President Joe Biden’s administration has set a goal of getting at least one vaccine shot into at least 70% of U.S. adults by the July 4 Independence Day holiday. The partnership with dating sites is meant to attract young people otherwise reluctant to get vaccinated.

“Social distancing and dating were always a bit of a challenging combination,” White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt told reporters on Friday.

He said OkCupid, one of the dating sites, reported that people who display their vaccination status were 14 percent more likely to get a match.

“We have finally found the one thing that makes us all more attractive: a vaccination,” Slavitt said.

The dating platforms, which cater to more than 50 million people in the United States, will offer badges showing vaccination status, free access to “premium content like boosts, super likes, and super swipes” for vaccinated individuals, and filters to potential hook-ups based on people’s vaccination status, the White House said.

Match Group Inc confirmed the participation of its top U.S. brands including Tinder, Match, OkCupid, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, BLK and Chispa. Promotional campaigns will launch in coming weeks and run until July 4.

Shar Dubey, CEO of Match Group, said: “We are honored to work with the White House on increasing vaccinations across America, which will allow people to once again meet in person and engage in meaningful ways. This will make dating safer for everyone, everywhere.”

To meet the 70% target as demand slows for vaccines, the White House this month announced partnerships with ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft.

As of Thursday, the United States has administered about 279.4 million doses, with 48.2% of its people receiving at least one shot, according to the latest data https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason in Washington; Additional reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Howard Goller)