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Image: Hinge

The White House is hoping that the urge to merge will motivate more Americans to get vaccinated, teaming up with nine of the largest dating sites to offer badges and other perks to those who have gotten their COVID-19 shot.

Why it matters: The White House has an ambitious goal to get 70% of American adults to have had at least their first vaccine shot by July 4.

Details: Different sites are offering various types of premium content such as boosts, super likes and super swipes to those who get vaccinated as well as ways for people to share their vaccination status in their profile.

  • Those taking part include Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, Badoo, BLK, Hinge, Chispa, Match and Plenty of Fish.

Between the lines: 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. 

Here's what some of the sites have planned:

  • Tinder: Members will be able to add stickers to their profile including “Getting Vaxed” or “Vaccines Save Lives.” Those who get vaccinated will get a “Super Like” to raise their chances of being seen by a desired match.  
  • OkCupid: Daters will be able to add an “I’m Vaccinated” profile badge, and those who are vaccinated will get a free "boost" and can choose to be paired with others who are also vaccinated.
  • Bumble and Badoo will enable U.S. customers to add a "vaccinated" badge to their profiles. Both apps will give credit toward premium features such as Spotlights and "Superswipes."
  • BLK, a site for Black singles, will add a new “Vaxified” profile badge and give a free "boost" to those who get vaccinated and display the badge.
  • Chispa, the largest dating app for Latino singles, will add a new “Vacunado” profile badge option and also give a free "boost" to those who are vaccinated. 
  • Hinge will encourage users to share their vaccination status on their profiles and give vaccinated users a free “Rose" — Hinge's way to show extra interest.
  • Match: Members will have the option to add a new “Vaccinated” badge and give those who are vaccinated a free “Boost” to help them stand out on the app.
  • Plenty of Fish: Members will be able to add an “I Got My Shot” badge to their profiles in early June. Those who do so can receive 20 Live! credits to use on the Plenty of Fish Live! streaming feature.

Go deeper

Aug 26, 2021 - Health

Living with the coronavirus will likely never be risk-free

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vaccinated Americans are facing a disheartening reality: Even after getting the shot, they'll have to live with some level of risk from the coronavirus for the foreseeable future.

State of play: A glut of data released over the past few weeks supports the idea that coronavirus vaccine effectiveness against infection begins to wane over time, although it remains effective against severe disease.

  • Most of the data suggest effectiveness is on the decline within six months post-vaccination. The Biden administration, however, plans to recommend a booster after eight months — which appears to still be well before effectiveness against severe disease significantly wanes, if that ends up happening at all.
  • "6 months is the time of significant waning, not 8 months. That time was likely only selected due to logistics," Eric Topol, executive vice president of Scripps Research, told Axios.

The context: But the U.S. vaccination campaign began in December which means millions of vaccinated Americans are likely significantly less protected than when they completed their first round of shots.

  • That's not even accounting for the possibility that the vaccines are less effective against the Delta variant specifically, in addition to losing potency over time.

That means that at least until we get a booster — we all have to figure out how to live our lives knowing that our vaccines are imperfect at keeping us from getting sick, but work very well at keeping us alive and out of the hospital.

  • That's very normal for vaccines, experts say, and may remain true even with boosters.
  • “Where the public got spoiled here was the response to the mRNA vaccines was so strong” that it gave people protection against infection, “which was a welcome bonus," said Cornell virologist John Moore. "That was unexpected and very welcome, but it wasn’t normal."

My thought bubble: I am also trying to figure out what is a sustainable and ethical level of risk to incorporate into my life, and it's hard.

  • As a low-risk person, my main fear isn't getting the virus; it's contributing to its spread among the unvaccinated and the vulnerable.
  • That means I'm back to wondering whether I should dine indoors, struggling to make travel plans and taking coronavirus tests after being in what I perceive to be high-risk situations. These are all things I had hoped were behind me after I became fully vaccinated.

Yes, but: Just because risk will always be with us doesn't mean it will always be this bad.

  • A giant reason why breakthrough cases are common right now is because so much virus is circulating through the U.S. If the country's caseload decreases, everyone will be less likely to be exposed to the virus — including vaccinated people.
  • And at-risk Americans will likely be first in line for booster shots, meaning the people who have the most to lose from breakthrough cases will soon have extra protection.

The bottom line: It would be foolish to assume that your coronavirus vaccine will continuously provide you near-perfect protection against infection.

  • It is also, for most vaccinated people, unrealistic to worry that an infection would be life-threatening.
  • Simultaneously, visiting your grandmother in a nursing home right now does require caution, especially if you have been resuming pre-COVID life.

Scoop: Beto plans Texas comeback in governor's race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Tx in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which bans effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.