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To help people find Covid-19 vaccines, Facebook debuts new features

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Technology giant, owner of Instagram and WhatsApp, announced Monday that it will use its platforms to help users learn more about Covid-19 vaccines, including where and when they can be vaccinated.

“Now that many countries are moving toward vaccination for all adults, we are working on tools to facilitate vaccination for all,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in prepared comments posted Monday on the social media platform.

“First, we launch a tool that shows you when and where you can get vaccinated and provides you with a link to make an appointment,” Zuckerberg wrote in the message. “This will be found in the Covid Information Center, which we will show people directly in their news feed.”

The Covid Information Center will also be on Instagram, where Zuckerberg said the company “will show it to people who stand out as well.”

The company, Zuckerberg added, is also “working with health authorities and governments to expand their WhatsApp chatbots to help people sign up for vaccines.”

How to find Covid-19 vaccines through Facebook

To help people find vaccines, Facebook partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital to launch its location tool in the United States. The tool connects Facebook users with Covid-19 vaccine access sites in their neighborhood, vaccination site operating hours, contact information, and appointments.

You should be able to search your Facebook app if you type something like “Covid-19 Vaccine” or “Covid-19 Vaccine.” This will bring the Covid-19 Information Center to Facebook and of it, there will be a new tool where you can search for vaccination sites near you, ”Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook’s head of health, told CNN on Sunday.

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

“Our partners in the United States experienced a 19% increase in the first blood donors nationwide,” he said. “So our hope is to really help in the deployment of vaccines.”

The locations identified in the new Covid-19 vaccine search engine come from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccine finder, a web-based system of vaccination providers. The tool was launched only in the United States, but Facebook announced that it plans to expand to other countries, as vaccines are more widely available and the tool will be supported in 71 different languages.
The new & quot;  Facebook & quot;  Find a Covid-19 vaccine & quot;  a tool.

“It’s initially on Facebook, but we hope to bring it to Instagram soon,” Jin said.

The Covid-19 Information Center launches on Instagram

For now, the Covid-19 Information Center itself has taken to Instagram, “which will include a lot of information around common questions about the vaccine,” Jin said. “And that’s also available live starting today.”

He Covid-19 Information Center, a portal that was originally launched on the Facebook platform last March, is now accessible to all Instagram users worldwide, 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, posts on social media usually about Covid-19 vaccines will automatically receive tags pointing people to the Covid-19 Information Center.

“This will apply to all messages that generally refer to Covid-19 vaccines,” Jin said. “The label will essentially provide a link to the Covid-19 Information Center, where people can go looking for answers to common questions.”

Facebook also announced Monday that Instagram has released new “stickers” about the Covid-19 vaccine that users can use in their Instagram stories. For example, once the sticker says “GET VACCINATED” and it has the heart symbol.

Health authorities resort to WhatsApp

Meanwhile, there are also new developments on the other Facebook platform, WhatsApp. Facebook has offered the messaging app as a way for health authorities and governments to share information about the Covid-19 vaccine with users.

For example, the city of Buenos Aires in Argentina announced last week that WhatsApp will be the official channel through which citizens will be notified when it is their turn to receive the vaccine, according to Facebook.

“WhatsApp is a free service that is often cheaper than texting or texting, so it can somehow lower the barriers,” Jin said.

“In the end, governments use all communication channels to reach the people where they are, both online and offline, with relevant information. And we are doing everything we can to support these efforts and decisions.”

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