Facebook is the next tech giant to join the vaccine search and booking game. This morning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company is connecting to a new COVID-19 vaccination tool that helps users find where they can get vaccinated and opening times. The data is powered by VaccineFinder, a tool created by Boston Children’s Hospital with CDC support, which also gives users links to make an appointment.
According to the announcement, Facebook users will see the search tool, which is located in the company’s Covid Information Center, on their newsfeed. Users can access the information in 71 langauges. Zuckerberg also announced that the Covid Information Center will be live on Facebook-owned Instagram.
Misinformation is another target area for the company. It announced the expansion of the list of false claims it will flag around vaccines and the virus, and is launching a tool called Crod-Tangle’s COVID-19 Live Displays to track the spread of COVID-19 vaccine-related misinformation on social media.
The social media giant is also looking to use its messaging service WhatsApp in the efforts, using the platform’s chatbots to help with vaccine registration. For example, in Buenos Aires Argentina, the government will use the tool to notify patients when they can recieve the vaccine. The company is also working with Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa to use the tool in various capacities.
“The data shows the vaccines are safe and they work. They’re our best hope for getting past this virus and getting back to normal life. I’m looking forward to getting mine, and I hope you are too,” Zuckerberg wrote in the announcement.
WHY IT MATTERS
COVID-19 vaccines are quickly rolling out in the U.S. Some 69.7 million people in the nation have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 37.5 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
While cases in the country are falling, there is still a long way to go. The CDC reported 455,251 COVID-19 cases within the last 7 days. In total, the agency has recorded over 29 million cases in the U.S.
THE LARGER TREND
Facebook certainly isn’t the first consumer tech company to create tools for vaccination search. Back in January, Google added a new feature to help users find COVID-19 vaccination sites. The tool, which was launched in Google maps and search, gave users details about the vaccination sites, and regarding whether or not they needed to book an appointment.
The government has also been working on efforts to help patients find vaccination sites. In February, the federal government opened access to digital site VaccineFinder, which helps people find sites and appointments.
Over the course of this pandemic, Facebook has actively created new tools to help tackle the spread. In April, Facebook released three new disease-tracking maps based on aggregated Facebook data. They are: a colocation map, a movement range map and a social-connectedness map.