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#Jab2shack? White House partners with dating apps to encourage Covid-19 vaccinations

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Nine major dating apps will be offering users ways to advertise their vaccination status and boost their chances for a match with “super likes” and “super swipes,” as part of a partnership with the White House.

The premium content, which includes profile badges and stickers declaring a date-seeker’s immunity to Covid-19 and various ways to boost their visibility to preferred partners, will become available next week. The US government says it has enrolled Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, Badoo, BLK, Hinge, Chispa, Match and Plenty of Fish into its outreach program.

“According to research from OkCupid, people who are vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated receive 14% more matches than people who don’t plan to get vaccinated,” the White House said on Thursday explaining the rationale for the ad campaign.

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The Biden administration seeks to counter a slowdown in the pace of the vaccination program, which reached a peak in April and has since declined by about half. The trend is worrisome, considering that the US has a long way to go yet to reach the target of a 70% Covid-19 vaccination rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports over 160 million people in the country – or about 48% – have received at least one dose and nearly 127 million have been fully vaccinated.

How big an impact the new incentive given to the horny, the lonely and the bored would have on vaccination hesitancy is anyone’s guess. Like many other daily issues, the vaccination campaign in the US became an arena for its culture wars, so one can easily see how a light-hearted nudge by the government to disclose what is essentially private medical information could backfire.

One can imagine the conservative outrage if, for instance, a dating app offered an “HIV-negative” badge on a profile, a comparison that can arguably be drawn in this case. And with White House involvement, having “only vaccinated, please” in Tinder bio may become viewed on the right as a political statement rather than a personal choice.

Authorities in the US have been using other ways to prompt people into getting the jab. Some states like Maryland are offering the chance of a lottery win to draw in crowds. There are also campaigns targeting specific groups prone to be distrustful of the government, like the black community.

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