How COVID vaccines could change the dating game

Attentive lover. Passionate about work. Empathy in spades. Fur.

For months, Sara Jablow searched for a hard-to-find combination of personality traits in future boyfriends. Now, however, after nearly a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, one elusive feature is starting to transcend all others for her: vaccine status.

It’s not that Jablow is picky; the 34-year-old winemaker from Napa, Calif., has had about a half-dozen Zoom dates and several actual dates since ending her last long-term relationship in June. This time around, however, all the research is different; she received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the end of January and is looking for a partner who is either vaccinated or interested in being vaccinated soon.

“It all depends on the vaccine for me now,” said Jablow, who was vaccinated early due to her work in the California agriculture industry. “I’m pretty straightforward about it: I believe in science, and if someone isn’t interested (in the vaccine) or believes in it (vaccines in general), I’m done. “

Jablow certainly isn’t the only vaccinated single person looking for safer dating these days.

Matchmakers reported seeing intense demand from partners who received both doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Dating sites have seen dramatic increases in mentions of the word vaccine. Even if you listen to the masked and distant hangouts in public parks, it seems everyone is desperately looking for someone who has been injected.

“Getting vaccinated or being open to doing it is the most exciting thing you can do right now,” said Michael Kaye, spokesperson for dating site OKCupid.

OKCupid users see vaccines as the “light at the end of the tunnel,” Kaye said.

“It’s not only good for your health and safety to be open to the vaccine, but it’s also good for your love life. “

Demand on the rise

The recent spikes in demand make perfect sense. As health systems administer dose after dose of COVID vaccines – as of February 8, over 42 million doses have been administered in the United States – those who get vaccinated are much less likely to get sick with COVID-19.

No, getting the vaccine is not a quick fix; researchers are currently trying to determine the extent to which vaccinees can transmit the virus. But their efficiency rates are high. Vaccination clearly has benefits, and in the dating world, those benefits are in. strong demand.

Exactly what interest is the vaccination status arousing nowadays? It depends on who you are requesting information from.

At OKCupid, Kaye said he saw a 25% increase in mentions of the “vaccine” on site profiles during the month of January and a 63% increase between November and January. He added that users who answer “Yes” to a standard profile question: “Are you going to receive the COVID-19 vaccine? “Are” liked “up to 25% more than those who answer” No “or choose not to answer.

Other dating sites have reported even more encouraging statistics.

Dating site Tinder saw an astronomical 258% increase in profile mentions of the word “vaccine” between September and December last year, said Dana Balch, spokesperson for the Los Angeles-based company.

“What this tells me is that the notion of becoming immune to the virus has sparked a conversation around a cultural moment that is of concern to everyone,” she said. “We expect that interest (in vaccines) will only increase.”

Admittedly, at this point in the vaccine rollout, those numbers can be a bit skewed. Most of the people who have been vaccinated are healthcare professionals, first responders, essential workers, and people over the age of 65 or 70. In most of these cases, people are probably too busy or anxious to prioritize dating right now.

Bela Gandhi, dating coach and founder of Smart Dating Academy, a matchmaking service in Chicago, said that as more people get vaccinated and share photos of themselves getting caught on social media, the vaccination status will become higher. important.

“I think there are going to be seismic changes in the way we think about this,” she said.

Gandhi envisioned a scenario in which singles report their COVID-19 vaccination status the same way some report taking prophylactic drugs to prevent HIV transmission.

“Dating is about developing an emotional connection and making sure a person doesn’t have red flags,” she continued. “Knowing that someone received a COVID vaccine certainly eliminates one of the biggest red flags of the time.”

What vaccination really means

Technically speaking, Gandhi is right – at the most basic level, vaccination status indicates whether a potential lover has received the vaccine. On another level, a person’s willingness to disseminate their immunization status speaks volumes about that person’s morals and their relationship to issues such as science, politics, and the common good.

Immunization status is a way to “understand a person’s relationship with trusted institutions,” said Jennifer Reich, professor of sociology at the University of Colorado at Denver. The vaccines mark a certain faith in public health and a desire to participate in community solutions, she said, noting that it can be important to people in the same way that certain types of causes have been important in dating. over time.

“People are looking for people who share their values, and that could be its own symbolic marker,” said Reich, who has specialized in researching attitudes towards vaccinations for years.

The COVID-19 vaccine allows you to control your own exposure to the virus, but beyond helping with possible herd immunity, it says little about your willingness to control the exposure of others, said Rachel DeAlto, Meetings Manager at Match.com.

“The vaccine is for protecting yourself, while the masks are for protecting others,” she said. “The conversation about masks is more difficult.”

DeAlto added that post-vaccination dating, like dating the COVID era as a whole, comes down to risk tolerance.

“Someone who gets the vaccine might say, ‘I’m going to take this chance and start hitting on people again,” she explained. “Others won’t be comfortable if they don’t have double protection between themselves and the person they’re dating. Before you leave, you need to figure out where you are at and be very clear about it from the start.

The flip side of that equation is that when two vaccinated people get together, the risks to them are almost zero, CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician in Baltimore and visiting professor of public health at George Washington University told Washington. , DC.

“If your grandparents have been vaccinated and they want to dine with their neighbors, as long as the neighbors have also been vaccinated, they can dine indoors because they are not a danger to each other,” he said. said Wen. “The same applies to dating – when you go out with someone else who is fully immunized, there is very minimal danger to both parties involved. “

Cautions to remember

Whatever value we place on immunization, it is important to remember that the current COVID-19 vaccines are not a panacea.

First of all, the two current vaccines require two injections, and even then, they take a few weeks to work.

Second, without an official vaccination card or social media photo, it can be difficult for people to prove to potential partners that they have received the vaccine.

Third – and perhaps most important – while vaccines have been shown to be 94-95% effective at preventing viral symptoms in patients who receive the injections, researchers are still trying to determine the risk that the vaccinated might be. present for others. A recent UK study – one that had not been peer reviewed – suggested that it is possible that those with some degree of immunity to the virus could still carry it in their nose or throat and therefore pass it on.

To complicate matters, some of the newer strains of COVID-19 have been shown to be more transmissible than the original, which could pose additional health risks.

In addition, the number of cases is always high, which increases the chances of everyone to encounter the virus.

The ramifications of these data points are clear: just because you get the vaccine doesn’t mean you should stop wearing face coverings or practice social distancing. It also means that people who have been vaccinated should probably think twice before starting to have intimate relationships with people who have not yet been vaccinated.

Gandhi, the dating coach, said that as people get vaccinated and return to the dating pool, communicating mindfulness about these issues can go a long way.

“Realizing the big picture shows that you take it seriously,” she said. “It’s a signal, in the best possible way.”

As for Jablow, the winemaker, the vaccination status hasn’t changed anything, especially when it comes to how she prepares to potentially expose others.

She always wears face coverings. She always keeps her distance. She still avoids going into the grocery store at all costs. Jablow went so far as to say that she is even more cautious about her health after receiving the vaccine – out of necessity.

“If I were to go out with someone who was not vaccinated, pick up COVID, then give it to someone else, I don’t know if I could sleep at night or live with myself”, a- she declared. “It was like I had won the lottery when I found out I was going to get the vaccine. It is a responsibility. It’s an honor. I can’t screw it all up. I will not do it.

About Jimmie P. Ricks

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