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A shot at love: Your vaccination status is the latest Covid-era compatibility test

“Knowing when the other person is vaccinated has definitely alleviated a lot of my fears," one Bumble and Tinder user said.
Illustration - How vaccines are changing the world of dating apps
Max Butterworth / NBC News

After getting her second dose of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine in April, Jen Edwards decided it was time to update her dating apps.

“Originally, I did it as a kind of a little joke. The line I use is, ‘Fully vaccinated, still anti-social,’” she said.

Edwards, 27, who lives in New Jersey and uses Tinder, OkCupid and Bumble, is part of a growing number of users who are featuring their vaccine status in their bios and profiles.

Some users, like Edwards, have used quirky jokes to announce they're vaccinated. Some have listed it in their status, along with the brand they received. While others have made it clear they have no plans to get the shot.

“I thought it was also a good idea to let people know where I stand because saying you're fully vaccinated says more than you’re fully vaccinated,” Edwards said.

Vaccination status has become a new type of compatibility test for dating app users seeking a match, and with roughly 250 million doses of the vaccines administered in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some are beginning to feel pangs of optimism that future first dates will no longer take place virtually as video chats.

"I have it on there as part of my profile that I’m fully vaccinated as of the date that I was vaccinated, and I’ve noticed that that’s a trend usually with the people that are [vaccinated]," said 31-year-old Ashton Dunn, of Nashville, Tennessee, who uses Bumble and Tinder. "They tend to put it on their profile, which makes it a little bit easier to make it feel safer meeting up with people."

On Tinder, mentions of the word “vaccine” hit an all-time high in April around the time most adults qualified for the shot, according to data the app shared with NBC News. On OkCupid, mentions of the word “vaccine” increased 1,486.5 percent in April compared to January, according to data shared with NBC News.

OkCupid has even added questions to the app like “Will you get the Covid-19 vaccine?” and “Would you cancel a date with someone who didn’t want to take the Covid-19 vaccine?”

But the vaccine conversation on dating apps appears to have also exacerbated existing polarizations among users, narrowing who a person is willing to swipe right on.

"I don’t want to necessarily write people off," said 27-year-old Ari Lang, of Buffalo, New York, who uses Tinder and Hinge. Lang recently added to her profile that she’s fully vaccinated and her immunity would kick in May 11. "I’d like to hear their reasoning for why they aren’t vaccinated, but I also don’t really feel like I need to take on the burden of educating someone when I’m just trying to casually date."

Those who spoke to NBC News about their dating profiles said they’ve seen both pro- and anti-vaccination sentiments on all of their dating apps.

"People seem to have very, very strong opinions either way on where they stand, and it’s definitely been true when I’ve been looking at profiles and swiping," Dunn said. "They either are all for it or 100 percent against it and they make that very clear."

She added she understands some concerns about the vaccine, especially if a person has a health condition that makes it challenging for them to get vaccinated. However, Dunn said she would prefer to go out with a vaccinated person "just so we have that added layer of protection."

In one case, Lang said she saw a profile with the image of a 30-year-old tattooed man leaning against a red motorcycle with a caption that read, “Being vaccinated isn’t a personality trait.” She said she viewed the caption as the man “blatantly outing himself” for not getting vaccinated.

"I kind of feel like it exposes a sentiment that’s already there, that’s already been underlying," Lang said. "For me, it’s nice to have that information up front because it kind of indicates to me, like, a lot of things about the person that I just don’t want to deal with in general."

Those who at least express interest in receiving the vaccine are having more conversations than those who don’t on OkCupid, according to the app.

“One specific thing that’s been a silver lining of the pandemic is that people are forced to have a hard conversation earlier, specifically around Covid,” Logan Ury, director of relationship science for Hinge, said. “People were forced to have these crucial conversations earlier on, and that’s been great. It gives you a chance to see how does this person think, what are their values?”

For those who match with a person who is vaccinated and want to go out on a date, the name of the game is trust. Those who spoke to NBC News said they’re not requiring their matches to show a vaccine card before going out.

“Usually, I do take their word for it,” Dunn said, adding that she has, however, seen some matches post their vaccine cards on their profile. “I definitely think there’s an honor system to it as well.”

Being vaccinated, and seeing that a match has been vaccinated, has also made Dunn more willing to go on dates.

"Knowing when the other person is vaccinated has definitely alleviated a lot of my fears," Dunn said. "I feel that added layer of protection knowing that we both have been vaccinated because it just makes me feel a lot more comfortable about meeting in person and if we’re dating, eventually, intimacy."

As the summer approaches, there’s a sense of optimism mixed with nerves among those who are ready to find love on dating apps.

There’s also FODA, or fear of dating again, which Ury said is a common feeling of nervousness around getting back into the scene.

“We’ve seen that many Hinge daters are excited about finding a date and finding a relationship, but they do feel held back by this FODA,” Ury said.

Edwards, who added the “fully vaccinated, still anti-social” line to her profile, said she’s looking forward to dating but is nervous about socializing after a year spent in isolation.

"I’ve been alone for so long," Edwards said. "It’s definitely going to be an adjustment going back in, but everyone is going to be doing that so everyone is going to be awkward together and figuring out how to talk to people again."

But for Dunn, the year spent inside has left her more eager to get out into the world.

"I think people are definitely excited to get outside and go to events and meet up with people and date. Last summer was quite different from this summer, so I definitely think everybody’s getting a lot more excited that we can move freely," she said. "I definitely think the vibe is a lot more exciting for everybody."