Apple’s new version appears to have nothing inside the needle (though it could be the clear vaccine liquid). “This makes the emoji more versatile when used to describe Covid-19 vaccination,” explained Emojipedia, a site that catalogues the icons.
Emojipedia said that while the syringe was once associated with donating blood, there has been a noticeable shift to it being used for vaccinations, alongside other emoji such as a face mask or a microbe. By December, the icon had become associated with words such as “vaccine”, “Covid-19”, “Pfizer”, and “Moderna”, it said.
The change was discovered in the beta version for Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 14.5, which is likely to be available to ordinary users soon. New emojis must be approved by industry body the Unicode consortium – but existing ones are designed slightly differently by companies such as Apple, making tweaks possible.
Earlier this week climate campaigners expressed disappointment after Unicode rejected calls for a wind turbine emoji to be added. While there are emojis for a gas pump and an oil drum, there is nothing that represents renewable energy. RenewableUK said Unicode’s decision is an “odd stance” given that the body’s main sponsoring companies include tech giants which are leading private sector advocates for action on climate change.