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The Biden administration is rolling out a new set of digital services to help Americans find COVID-19 vaccines. The new tools are multimodal, as well as multilingual, and include text-based services, a website and a call number, which will all be available in English and Spanish.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated, once they make the decision to do so," Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said. "As we work to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccines, these tools will eliminate burdens and help make it easier to find vaccination sites.
"By making it easier to find a vaccine, we will help people take a big step towards protecting themselves against COVID-19 and returning to their lives.”
As of May 1, users can text their ZIP code to GETVAX to get service in English or VACUNA to tap into Spanish language services. Users will get a text back instantly about three locations in their area with vaccines available.
VaccineFinder.org, a tool created by Boston Children's Hospital with CDC and HHS support, will now convert to vaccines.gov to help people in the U.S. find immunization sites in their area. The tool has previously gone live on Google, Facebook and Apple.
Folks will also be able to use the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline to help Americans register for the shot. HHS pitches this as a way for individuals with unreliable Internet or those who feel more comfortable on the phone to get access to appointments.
WHY IT MATTERS
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than 32 million coronavirus cases reported. A total of 574,220 individuals in the U.S. have died from the virus.
Since the start of 2021, COVID-19 vaccination efforts continue to roll out across the U.S. According to the CDC, 56.3% of the adult population in the country has at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. In total, 247 million doses have been administered.
According to the Biden Administration, 90% of Americans now have vaccination sites within five miles of their home.
However, there is still a great deal of vaccine hesitancy in the country. According to the Kaiser Family Fund COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, 61% of adults over the age of 18 want to get the vaccine ASAP or have already had the shot. That number is even lower for younger Americans.
THE LARGER TREND
Increasingly, public health officials have teamed up with tech to help people find a way to get vaccinated. Just last week, YouTube announced a new PSA born out of a collaboration with Vaccine Confidence Project and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The project is aimed to help people find reliable information about COVID-19 shots.
Beyond connecting users to the vaccine finder site, Facebook has also included state-specific vaccine information and airport travel guidances. Google has also now included new COVID-19 related travel restrictions in their Search feature.