Facebook said Monday it's releasing new tools to make it easier for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, including a feature to find a time and place to receive a shot.
The new tools show how tech companies are playing a role in public health messaging around the vaccine. Social networks have also had to battle misinformation about the vaccine such as debunked claims that the vaccine is toxic and causes autism. Last week,said states must make the vaccine open to all eligible adults by May 1.
"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," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a statement, noting he's looking forward to getting the vaccine himself.
During the pandemic, Facebook launched an online hub for coronavirus information, which the company is expanding globally to its photo-service Instagram. Facebook users in the US who visit this online information center will also have access to a new feature available in 17 languages that displays a map of nearby places that offer the COVID-19 vaccine when they search for a city. The locations are provided by VaccineFinder and contains the place's contact information, hours of operations and a link to book an appointment. Facebook teamed up with Boston Children's Hospital to build the new feature.
Facebook said it's also partnering with health authorities and governments to get people registered for vaccinations through notifications on its messaging service WhatsApp. The social network said governments, nonprofits and international organizations have sent 3 billion messages about COVID-19 to people through WhatsApp chatbots.
Facebook said in the coming weeks it's also adding labels on all posts about the COVID-19 vaccines that direct them to the COVID-19 Information Center and plans to do more labeling. Thein February said it would remove more false claims about the COVID-19 vaccine that could lead to physical harm. Users will also see another screen when they try to share a post on Facebook and Instagram with a COVID-19 label. The social network is also launching new tools so journalists, publishers and others can track COVID-19 information in real time and public health officials can analyze data about why some people don't want to get vaccinated.
More than 531,766 people in the US have died from the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus and 107 million vaccines have been administrated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.