Google Maps will soon display locations that offer Covid-19 vaccinations, further bolstering awareness of the virus — and how to avoid it.
The feature is rolling out in the coming weeks, beginning in four states: Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Google announced Monday that searches for “vaccines near me” have increased five fold since the beginning of the year and it’s implementing this feature to ensure it’s “providing locally relevant answers.”
The results, which will also be shown in search results in designated information panels, include details about whether an appointment is required, if the vaccine is only available to certain groups and if there’s a drive-thru. Google said it’s working with “authoritative sources” for the information, including local governments and retail pharmacies. Information about vaccine sites will roll out to other states and countries later.
Confusion about the vaccine is rampant with 60% of Americans saying they don’t know when or where to get it, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Vaccine availability in the United States has also been problematic with President Joe Biden urging patience that the rollout will soon be improved. He’s ultimately aiming to deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine in his first 100 days iin office.
It’s the latest change to Google Maps in relation to the pandemic. In September, the Maps app began displaying seven-day averages of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people.
Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai also said Monday that the company is donating $100 million in ad grants to CDC Foundation, the World Health Organization and other nonprofits to run “critical public service health announcements” about the virus. “We recognize that getting vaccines to people is a complex problem to solve, and we’re committed to doing our part,” he said.
Certain parts of Google facilities, including parking lots and open spaces, in California, New York and Washington will also be opened for vaccination efforts and administration. It’s the latest corporate conglomerate to help improve the vaccine roll out, with Starbucks, Amazon and Walmart offering similar efforts in recent weeks.