- Google announced on Monday it has planned several initiatives and app updates to help with the ongoing coronavirus vaccine efforts.
- Both Google Maps and Google Search will display more information about vaccination sites going forward, as well as authoritative information about vaccines.
- Google will invest $150 million to promote vaccine education and transform some of its buildings, parking lots, and open spaces into vaccination facilities, as needed.
More than 64 million people were vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as of Saturday, including 20.5 million Americans. Just as more vaccine supply became available, several mutated coronavirus strains have begun spreading more efficiently than ever, including one that might impact vaccine efficacy. As of Monday morning, nearly 100 million have been infected, and more than 2.15 million people have died of COVID-19 complications. Governments around the world are now looking to speed up vaccination campaigns, with President Biden having committed to vaccinating 100 million people in his first 100 days in office.
Google on Monday announced its own plans to help with immunizations, including more funding for COVID-19 vaccine programs, as well as Google Maps and Search support for vaccine sites and actual logistics. Google even plans to make some of its own spaces available as vaccination sites.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post that Google will invest $150 million to promote vaccine education and equitable distribution. Google will deliver $100 million in ad grants for the CDC Foundation, the WHO, and nonprofits worldwide. An additional $50 million will be provided in partnership with public health agencies for vaccine-related information campaigns targeting underserved communities.
Pichai also explained that select Google facilities, including buildings, parking lots, and open spaces, will be available as needed for vaccination programs. Google will partner with local health care providers, starting One Medical and public health authorities in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area in California, Kirkland, Washington, and New York City.
Google will make vaccination sites more visible inside apps, including Google Maps and Search. The company expanded its information panels in Search to more than 40 countries, Pichai said, with more rolling out next week. Google Search will also show state and regional distribution information so that people can find information about vaccine eligibility in their area. A new “Get The Facts” initiative will roll out on Google and YouTube, featuring COVID-19 vaccines information.
Pichai said that searches for “vaccines near me” had increased fivefold since the beginning of January. Google Maps and Search will start showing vaccination locations in the coming weeks. Vaccination sites in Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas will be the first to populate Maps, with more states and countries to follow. Aside from a vaccination site locations, Google will include other relevant details, such as whether an appointment or referral is needed, if access is restricted to specific groups, and if there’s drive-through support.