Facebook vaccine finder is launching to help you get your Covid vaccine appointment
Facebook vaccine finder. Photo: hypebae

Facebook is targeting COVID-19 vaccine misinformation with its new vaccine finder feature.

The “vaccine finder” tool, in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital, helps people in the U.S. find a spot to get the shot. It includes links to make appointments.

The tech giant is also expanding the COVID-19 information center to Instagram and adding labels to Facebook and Instagram posts that discuss the safety of vaccines. Per Facebook, the labels contain reliable information from the World Health Organization.

Facebook vaccine finder launch

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, according to Mobihealthnews.

How it works

Facebook vaccine finder is launching to help you get your Covid vaccine appointment
Photo: about.fb

Helping People Find Where and When They Can Get Vaccinated

We’ve partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital to offer a tool on Facebook in the US to help people identify places nearby to get the vaccine. The locations in this tool are provided by VaccineFinder and include hours of operation, contact info and links to make an appointment. You can access this tool in the COVID-19 Information Center and it will be supported in 71 different languages. We plan to expand to other countries as vaccines are available more widely.

Connecting People to Resources on Instagram

Today, we’re bringing the COVID-19 Information Center to Instagram all around the world. This portal, which we launched in the Facebook app last March, helps people discover the latest information about the virus from local health ministries and the World Health Organization. We’re also releasing new stickers on Instagram Stories, so people can inspire others to get vaccinated when it becomes available to them. Learn more about these efforts on the Instagram blog.

Partnering with Health Authorities and Governments on Vaccine Registration

To date, 3 billion messages have been sent by governments, nonprofits and international organizations to citizens through official WhatsApp chatbots on COVID-19. We’re now working directly with health authorities and governments to get people registered for vaccinations, including:

  • Last week, the city and province of Buenos Aires, Argentina announced that WhatsApp will be the official channel to send notifications to citizens when it’s their turn to receive the vaccine.
  • In Brazil, a WhatsApp helpline is being used as an information and support channel for residents in Serrana, where health authorities are testing the first mass vaccinations project in the country.
  • In Indonesia, the Ministry of Health started Phase II of its WhatsApp vaccine registration helpline, expanding vaccine registration from frontline workers to senior citizens.
  • Other governments and health authorities, including South Africa and the World Health Organization, are starting to incorporate up-to-date vaccine information into their helplines.

Amplifying Credible Health Information and Resources from Experts

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have partnered with ministries of health and health-focused organizations in more than 170 countries by providing free ads, enabling partners to share their own public health guidance on COVID-19 and information about the COVID-19 vaccine. For underserved countries and vulnerable populations such as ethnic minorities and refugees, we also partner with expert local and international NGOs, such as International Medical Corps, who are providing tailored COVID-19 information in local languages. In addition, we continue to work with international bodies like the European Union and African Union in support of their COVID-19 responses. For example, we have helped the European Parliament run a multilingual ad campaign in their 27 Member States, featuring short in-feed videos on Facebook and Instagram. Within a month, the campaign drove strong awareness and consideration, generating more than 100 million views and close to 2 million link clicks across all Member States.

We’re also supporting the United Nations’ “Only Together” campaign calling for fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world. In the coming days, we will be launching in-feed informational messages to promote content posted by health organizations who are participating in the UN’s campaign.

Promoting Reliable Information About COVID-19 Vaccines

In February, in consultation with leading health organizations, including the World Health Organization, we expanded the list of false claims we will remove during the pandemic to include additional debunked claims about the coronavirus and vaccines. Since launching our new policy applying both to old and new content, we have removed an additional 2 million pieces of content from Facebook and Instagram. The majority of this additional content was previously subject to warning screens, and is now removed from the platform.

We’re continuing to expand our efforts to address COVID-19 vaccine misinformation by adding labels to Facebook and Instagram posts that discuss the vaccines. These labels contain credible information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines from the World Health Organization. For example, we’re adding a label on posts that discuss the safety of COVID-19 vaccines that notes COVID-19 vaccines go through tests for safety and effectiveness before they’re approved. This label is rolling out globally in English, Spanish, Indonesian, Portuguese, Arabic and French, and we are adding additional languages in the coming weeks.

Making it Easier For Public Officials to Understand Vaccine Behaviors and Trends Around the World

Today, we are bringing new data and insights on vaccine attitudes to Facebook Data for Good’s COVID-19 map and dashboard. These visualizations are designed to provide information to inform and monitor vaccine rollouts in over 200 countries and territories. The dashboard is updated in near real time with data collected by our partners at Carnegie Mellon University and University of Maryland as part of the COVID-19 Symptom Survey. For example, globally, the top two reasons why respondents say they do not intend to get vaccinated are fear of side effects and waiting to see if vaccines are safe. Facebook does not host the surveys nor collect survey participant responses, and only has access to public, aggregated survey data provided by the universities. This data can help inform messaging tactics and policy decisions at a regional level.

Launching CrowdTangle COVID-19 Vaccine Live Displays

We’re also making it easy to track how COVID-19 vaccine information is being spread on social media through CrowdTangle’s COVID-19 Live Displays. Publishers, global aid organizations, journalists and others can access real-time, global streams of vaccine-related posts on Facebook, Instagram and Reddit in 34 languages. CrowdTangle also offers Live Displays for 104 countries and all 50 states in the US to help aid organizations and journalists track posts and trends at a regional level as well, About Fb wrote.

How to find COVID-19 vaccines through Facebook

Facebook vaccine finder is launching to help you get your Covid vaccine appointment
Photo: standard

To help people find vaccines, Facebook partnered with Boston Children's Hospital to launch its locator tool in the United States. The tool connects Facebook users with where to access COVID-19 vaccines in their neighborhood, hours of operation for vaccination sites, contact information and links to make an appointment.

"You should be able to search in your Facebook app -- if you type in something like 'COVID-19' or 'COVID-19 vaccine.' That will bring up the COVID-19 Information Center on Facebook, and within that there'll be a new tool where you can search to find vaccination sites near you," Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook's head of health, told CNN on Sunday.

The vaccine locator tool is similar to a blood donation feature that Facebook launched in 2019 to help users find places to donate blood in their area and be notified when a nearby blood donation center may be in need, Jin said.

"Our partners in the United States saw a 19% increase in first-time blood donors nationwide," he said. "So our hope is really to help here with the vaccine rollout."

The locations identified in the new COVID-19 vaccine finder come from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vaccine Finder, a web-based system of vaccination providers. The tool launched only in the U.S., but Facebook announced that it plans to expand to other countries as vaccines are available more widely, and the tool will be supported in 71 different languages.

"It's initially on Facebook but we're hoping to bring it to Instagram soon," Jin said.

COVID-19 Information Center launches on Instagram

For now, the COVID-19 Information Center itself was brought to Instagram, "which will include a lot of information around common questions about the vaccine," Jin said. "And that is available live starting today as well."

The COVID-19 Information Center, a portal that originally launched on the Facebook platform last March, is now accessible to all Instagram users around the world, according to Facebook.

When users click on the COVID-19 Information Center portal, they will see COVID-19 information from their local health ministers and the World Health Organization.

In the coming weeks, social media posts generally about COVID-19 vaccines will be automatically given labels pointing people to the COVID-19 Information Center.

"This is going to be applied to all posts that are generally about COVID-19 vaccines," Jin said. "The label essentially will offer a link to the COVID-19 Information Center where people then can go to get answers to common questions."

Facebook also announced on Monday that Instagram has released new "stickers" about the COVID-19 vaccine that users can use in their Instagram Stories. For instance, once sticker says "LET'S GET VACCINATED" and has a heart symbol, Kmbc noted.

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