The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on communities around the world. While there is much uncertainty still ahead, the development of multiple safe vaccines in such a short time gives us the reason for hope. Now the work begins to ensure that everyone can benefit from this triumph of scientific achievement, and quickly.
Google is already helping people get the information they need to keep their families safe and healthy, and now – it’s taking an additional step forward to help people get their vaccine shots.
$150 million to promote vaccinations
The search giant announced that it will provide more than $150 million to promote vaccine education and equitable distribution and make it easier to find locally relevant information, including when and where to get the vaccine. It will also be opening up Google spaces to serve as vaccination sites as needed.
Of that amount, $100 million will be provided in ad grants for the CDC Foundation, the World Health Organization, and nonprofits around the globe. The rest of the sum, $50 million, will be spent in partnership with public health agencies to reach underserved communities with vaccine-related content and information.
According to Google, its efforts will focus heavily on equitable access to vaccines. To that end, Google.org has committed $5 million in grants to organizations addressing racial and geographic disparities in COVID-19 vaccinations, including Morehouse School of Medicine’s Satcher Health Leadership Institute and the CDC Foundation.
Highlighting local vaccination sites
In addition, to help find accurate and timely information on vaccines, Google has expanded its information panels on Search to more than 40 countries and dozens of languages — with more rolling out in the coming week. It will begin showing state and regional distribution information on Search so people can easily find when they are eligible to receive a vaccine. Soon, a new “Get The Facts” initiative will be launched across Google and YouTube to get authoritative information out to the public about vaccines.
Searches for “vaccines near me” have increased 5x since the beginning of the year and Google wants to make sure it provides locally relevant answers. In the coming weeks, COVID-19 vaccination locations will be available in Google Search and Maps, starting with Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas — with more states and countries to come.
The search giant will include details like whether an appointment or referral is required, if access is limited to specific groups, or if it has a drive-through. It is working with partners like VaccineFinder.org, an initiative of Boston Children’s Hospital, and other authoritative sources, such as government agencies and retail pharmacies, to gather vaccination location information and make it available.
Google’s own spaces will serve as vaccination clinics
To help with vaccination efforts, starting in the United States, Google will make a few of its facilities — such as buildings, parking lots and open spaces — available as needed. These sites will be open to anyone eligible for the vaccine based on state and local guidelines.
For start, the company has teamed-up with health care provider One Medical and public health authorities to open sites in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area in California; Kirkland, Washington; and New York City, with plans to expand nationally. Google is working with local officials to determine when sites can open based on local vaccine availability.
The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected every community all over the world. It’s also inspired coordination between public and private sectors, and across international borders, on a remarkable scale. We can’t slow down now. Getting vaccines to billions of people won’t be easy, but it’s one of the most important problems we’ll solve in our lifetimes. Google said it will continue to support in whatever it can.