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Some dating apps users TODAY spoke to said that the vaccination badge was a good addition to the other profile parameters available. — Coffee Meets Bagel and Bumble pic via TODAY
Some dating apps users TODAY spoke to said that the vaccination badge was a good addition to the other profile parameters available. — Coffee Meets Bagel and Bumble pic via TODAY

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SINGAPORE, Aug 1 — The coronavirus pandemic has added a new dimension to modern day dating with some dating mobile apps allowing users here to display their Covid-19 vaccination status to help them feel safer or find like-minded individuals.

At least three dating apps – Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel and Hinge – have rolled out the feature for Singapore users, with Coffee Meets Bagel being the first to feature the option in March this year.

US-based Tinder said it was planning to make it available here soon while Paktor, which serves the Southeast Asia market, said it will introduce vaccination badges in the last quarter of the year when more young adults would have completed both jabs.

Paktor’s chief executive officer Alex Tam said that the app recognised that users might find the feature useful after singles who used their offline matchmaking arm, GaiGai, asked if the person they had been matched with by the company for a date had been vaccinated.

“It is an interesting thing that they do think about, so it is good to (allow people to indicate their vaccination status on Paktor) when it has become a common question,” Tam said.

The app is also looking into encouraging vaccinations by prioritising users’ profiles that have the vaccination badge by putting them on the radar of others more often.

Bumble meanwhile said that it started allowing its Singapore-based users to label their biodatas with a “I’m vaccinated” badge after seeing a steady increase in the number of people who have included the word “vaccine” or “vaccinated” in their profiles after a wider segment of the population received their first Covid-19 doses earlier this year.

To encourage its users to get vaccinated, it gives users a free SuperSwipe – a premium feature that lets them tell a potential match they are “confidently interested” in them – to help them stand out.

Tinder’s APAC communications lead Papri Dev told TODAY that Tinder has also found that the mention of the word “vaccinated” in user bios has increased by almost 2.2 times between January and June this year.

The apps however declined to say how many users have opted to use the badges, with the exception of Coffee Meets Bagel, which said 34.4 per cent of its Singaporean users have indicated their vaccination status.

It added that those with a vaccine status are, in fact, 7 per cent more effective in securing a match than those who said they are not planning on getting vaccinated.

When TODAY tried the apps, none of the profiles on Bumble had vaccination badges yet and the option to include the badge could not be found.

Bumble’s website states that users would have to swipe more profiles to be given the option to use the badge.

On Hinge, where it is easier for users to indicate their vaccination status, about three in 10 profiles had indicated their vaccination status, which could be either “vaccinated”, “partially vaccinated”, “not yet vaccinated”, or “prefer not to say”.

Vaccination status a good way to filter potential matches: Users

Some dating apps users TODAY spoke to said that the vaccination badge was a good addition to the other profile parameters available.

A 24-year-old university student who is on Bumble and Hinge and only wanted to be known as Yeo said that he would feel much safer about going on a date with someone who has been vaccinated.

Health risks aside, he added that it would also be an issue if the person he is dating is against vaccinations as he finds people with such views “irresponsible and unconcerned with the health of others”.

Joyce Chua, 30, book author, who has used dating apps, said that she too would be more averse to meeting someone from the app who is not vaccinated.

“To reject vaccination as a solution to a virus is, arguably, wilful ignorance and, honestly, very selfish and egocentric,” she said.

She said it was also a turnoff if the person she was dating did not get vaccinated because he is simply afraid of needles or its side effects.

“Would he rather spend the rest of his life fearful and at risk of getting infected than take a vaccine that is 95-per-cent efficient? We’ve got to be rational here. This is a preventable virus and we’ve already found a solution to it (for now),” she said.

A 31-year-old cybersecurity consultant who declined to be named said one’s vaccination status could reveal “a whole lot” about a person including their inability to accept new hard research and evidence and inconsideration for the well-being of others.

However, Chan, 29, who works in business development, said he did not mind not knowing if his potential date is vaccinated, citing the existing measures, such as mask-wearing and safe distancing, sufficient to keep the spread of the virus in check. — TODAY

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