Facebook announced a new plan to help users make COVID-19 vaccine appointments

Mark Zuckerberg

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Facebook announced a plan on Monday morning to help get people on the platform vaccinated.

Facebook partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital to build a tool that helps American users find nearby vaccine sites. They’ll see the hours of operation and contact information for vaccine sites, and can access an external link to make an appointment.

The VaccineFinder tool will be offered in 71 different languages. Insider has reached out to Facebook for more information on the exact timing of the tool’s rollout.

More than 69.6 million adults in the US — or about 27% of the population over 18 — has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose as of March 15, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci said between 70% to 90% of Americans must get vaccinated to reach herd immunity, or when uncontrolled spread stops.

The number of daily vaccines administered has shot up in the last month, but some eligible groups, like non-English speaking immigrants and seniors without internet access, still struggle with getting vaccine appointments.

Facebook will also release a new Instagram Stories sticker for users who got vaccinated to share their experience with followers, and lauch WhatsApp chatbots in Brazil, Indonesia, and Argentina that help users make vaccine appointments.

“The data shows the vaccines are safe and they work,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Monday. “They’re our best hope for getting past this virus and getting back to normal life.”

In addition to helping users make vaccine appointments, Facebook announced a new label that contains information from the World Health Organization. Facebook will roll out the label on “all posts generally about COVID-19 vaccines” as a way to prevent misinformation from spreading. The vaccine label will appear globally in English, Spanish, Indonesian, Portuguese, Arabic, and French.

Facebook has made moves throughout the pandemic to curb misinformation, but false claims regarding COVID-19 on social media have marred the country’s response. Avaaz, a US non-profit, found 84% of Facebook posts containing medical misinformation were left online with no labels or warnings. Insider’s Rob Price reported doctors with verified Facebook accounts shared fake claims about COVID-19 with their hundreds of thousands of followers. 

“We’re a year into a global pandemic, to which vaccines offer our only way out, and these accounts have been spreading falsehoods to deter people from getting vaccinated consistently,” Imran Ahmed, CEO of the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate, recently told Insider. “Their lies, and Facebook’s giving them a platform, have almost certainly cost lives.”

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