Facebook has launched a tool in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital to help people find covid-19 vaccine appointments, according to a press release from the social media company early Monday. The tool only works in the U.S. right now, but Facebook says it hopes to roll out the vaccine finder in more regions as the coronavirus inoculations become more widely available.
Users can visit Facebook’s Covid-19 Vaccine Info Center where they’ll be able to see hours of operation for locations with the vaccine, along with contact info and links online to make an appointment to get the jab. The Facebook tool is available in 71 different languages so far, according to the company.
“Today we’re launching a global campaign to help bring 50 million people a step closer to getting Covid-19 vaccines,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post overnight.
“We’ve already connected over 2 billion people to authoritative Covid-19 information,” Zuckerberg continued. “Now that many countries are moving towards vaccinations for all adults, we’re working on tools to make it easier for everyone to get vaccinated as well.”
And while Zuck is correct that Facebook has started providing more authoritative covid-19 information in recent months, conspiracy theories about vaccines, among plenty of other things, found a safe home at Facebook for far too long—especially in private groups.
Over 100 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. as of this past weekend, a remarkable achievement that should give Americans some sense of relief, however reserved. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
What happens if you don’t use Facebook but still want to find an appointment to get the vaccine? The good news is that Facebook’s tool is simply built on top of an existing tool that’s already available online called VaccineFinder, which is available at VaccineFinder.org. The tool was developed by the CDC, Harvard Medical School, and Boston Children’s Hospital, along with other health care partners.
To be clear, pointing out that the tool already exists is not to discount or belittle Facebook’s actions today. For some people, Facebook is the entire internet and anything that helps get more people vaccinated is certainly a good thing.
But it’s also helpful that this isn’t a tool that can only be accessed through Facebook. Plenty of people have jumped ship from Facebook in recent years following a multitude of privacy concerns with the platform. And the last thing we need is for Facebook to build proprietary public health tools that can only be accessed if you have a Facebook account.