No Vaccine, No Date: How Vaccination Status Is Dictating Dating Choices

Like most millennials, Julia Mathieson looks to her phone for most things, including dates. Swipe left, pause, swipe right. The pause is for her to read through a potential match’s bio, looking for things that can catch her interest, and one very important factor — whether they’re vaccinated or not. 

“I mention I’m fully vaccinated on my bio and look out for those who have indicated they are fully vaccinated on their profile as well,” the 30-year-old bartender from Toronto, Ontario told Re:Set. “If it is not listed on their profile, I would ask before meeting them, and if they aren’t, I wouldn’t feel comfortable meeting until they are.”

Mathieson is not the only one prioritizing vaccination status in the dating sphere. Dating apps like Bumble, Tinder, and OKCupid are seeing an increasing number of users across the world add their vaccination status (first dose or fully vaxxed) to their bios along with their preference for only meeting people who are fully vaccinated. In fact, the apps have even introduced features like badges or stickers that can be added to a user’s profile to help potential matches identify their vaccination status. 

The increase in focus around vaccinations is not hard to understand. COVID-19 has taken the lives of more than four million people worldwide, and is seeing a resurgence with the delta variant. With the rise of new variants, some susceptible to the vaccine and some not, vaccination status has become as important as citizenship. The pandemic has also split people into different camps with those against it — a.k.a the anti-vaxxers — who believe that getting vaccinated is dangerous, or worse, a violation of their freedom and those who understand the importance of getting vaccinated. And this is leading to a wider rift between people in social settings, like dating. 

“I put my dating life on pause once the pandemic hit. It was only once I was vaccinated that I started to feel comfortable with actively returning to dating apps,” Jessica Ford, a media professional based in Toronto, told Re:Set. “Cautiously coming back after this time away, it seemed a given to prioritize connecting with fellow vaccinated people.” Much like Mathieson, Ford says her decision to prioritize a potential partner’s vaccination status comes from wanting to ensure everyone’s safety and a strong belief in the science behind the vaccines, which anti-vaxxers seem to vehemently denounce as a conspiracy theory. “It’s as much about safety as making sure I am spending time with someone who agrees with me on something I believe in so fundamentally,” Ford said. 

It’s a similar story on the other end of the globe, in India, which is recovering from its deadly second wave and is still recording over 40,000 new COVID-19 cases daily.

“With the second wave, I saw people close to me suffer and die. Relatives, friends, parents of friends, everybody was affected. So vaccination became a priority,” said Raghav Puri, a student from Delhi. The 20-year-old added that there is enough anxiety around meeting friends and relatives who live nearby, let alone strangers from an online platform.

A recent survey by Bumble of its Indian users showed that 38% of Indians said they would not go on a date with an unvaccinated person. But for Puri vaccination status is preferable, but not a deal breaker. “I would prefer the person to be vaccinated. But if they aren’t, I wouldn’t immediately unmatch, but wait till they are,” he said, adding that anti-vaxxers are instantly unmatched.

There are however, those like Neha Kapoor, who draw the line at not being vaccinated. “One person I matched with mentioned he roams around outside everyday after just one jab, so I unmatched him. Safety first,” the 34-year-old content strategist and writer from Madhya Pradesh told Re:Set. 

Swipe left or right, it all comes down to your views on the greater good. “I understand hesitancy based on past personal or historical experiences, or being unvaccinated because of barriers to access. But even if safety was no longer a concern, a lot of it has to do with making sure my values are aligned with the person I see potential with,” Ford said.

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