Amazon's Alexa has joined the vaccine conversation. As of today, the technology is able to answer questions about COVID-19 immunization sites and eligibility. The data is powered by VaccineFinder, a tool created by Boston Children's Hospital with CDC support.
When a user asks Alexa about COVID-19 vaccinations in their area, the technology can reply with a list of centers in close proximity. Users are then able to instruct Alexa to call one of the centers that have been listed, according to an Amazon release.
Alexa is also programmed to tell users about vaccine availability and eligibility requirements in 85 countries.
Beyond vaccinations, Alexa is also able to help users find COVID-19 testing centers close to them. As with vaccinations, Alexa is able to connect users to a testing site.
WHY IT MATTERS
Currently, more than 213 million vaccine doses have been administered, according to the CDC. In fact, 40% of the total US population has had at least one dose of the vaccine.
While COVID-19 deaths are trending downwards, over 564,000 people in the US have died from the condition. In total, the CDC reports more than 31.5 million cases in the US.
As vaccine rollouts continue, technology companies have aimed to assist in helping facilitate appointment bookings and information.
THE LARGER TREND
It's no secret Amazon is making moves in the healthcare space. Amazon's Alexa has often been a part of this effort. In November of 2019, the company announced a new feature that lets users link up their pharmacy prescription information with Amazon Alexa and get reminders about when to take their pills and order refills.
Then in 2020, the company rolled out a slew of new features for the Alexa aimed at helping U.S. users check in on aging family members from afar.
In terms of the company's COVID-19 efforts, in March the FDA granted it an emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 test with home sample collection.
Amazon certainly isn't the only tech company interested in helping out COVID-19 vaccination efforts.