Google search, maps to give more info on Covid vaccine

New Delhi: Google on Wednesday announced to help users with more detailed information on the availability of Covid vaccines and appointments through its features like search, Maps and Assistant.

The added information, which will start from this week for over 13,000 locations across the country, will be powered by real-time data from the CoWIN APIs. The information include availability of appointment slots at each centre, vaccines and doses offered (dose 1 or dose 2), expectations for pricing (paid or free) and link to the CoWIN website for booking, the company said in a statement.

Google began showing Covid-19 vaccination centres from March 2021, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

“As people continue to seek information related to the pandemic to manage their lives around it, we remain committed to finding and sharing authoritative and timely information across our platforms,” said Hema Budaraju, Director, Google Search, in the statement.

The information will automatically show up when users search for vaccine centres near them, or in any specific area across Google Search, Maps and Google Assistant.

In addition to English, users can also search in eight Indian languages — Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati and Marathi.

Google will continue to partner closely with the CoWIN team to extend this functionality to all vaccination centres across India, the company said.

The company has also been working closely with the Rapid Risk Response team at the Union Health Ministry that is tracking misinformation using social media listening tools across regions and languages, and countering it with science-based messaging on vaccines and pandemic response overall.

Shortly after the first phase of vaccination commenced, the company had rolled out knowledge panels in Google Search that show up queries relating to Covid vaccine.

This information is sourced from the Health Ministry, and provides answers to the commonly asked questions, displays real-time statistics around vaccination, and provides links to the Health Ministry website for additional local resources.