Google is launching an initiative to provide more than $150 million to promote education and equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines, the company announced today. It’s going to make some Google facilities — buildings, parking lots, and open spaces — available as vaccination clinics, with plans to open sites in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kirkland, Washington, and New York City first, and expand nationally as vaccines become more widely available.
Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai says in a blog post that the company would give $100 million in ad grants to the CDC Foundation, the World Health Organization, and other nonprofits. It also plans to invest $50 million in partnerships with public health agencies to help get information about vaccines to underserved communities.
“Our efforts will focus heavily on equitable access to vaccines,” Pichai writes in the post. “Early data in the U.S. shows that disproportionately affected populations, especially people of color and those in rural communities, aren’t getting access to the vaccine at the same rates as other groups.”
Google had already committed $5 million in grants to organizations like the Morehouse School of Medicine’s Satcher Health Leadership Institute, which is focused on addressing racial and geographic disparities in vaccine access.
Google will also expand the vaccine information panels in its search results, and will start showing state and regional distribution information in search so people can check when they’re eligible to receive a vaccine. Google launched the vaccine information panels in search last month in the UK, listing information on each individual vaccine. They’re similar to the info panels it used to share facts about COVID-19 and the locations of testing centers.
The company says searches for “vaccines near me” have increased fivefold since the beginning of the year. In the coming weeks, COVID-19 vaccination locations will be available in search and Maps for Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, and more states and countries will be added soon. The search results will include details about whether appointments or referrals from a doctor are required, whether there’s a drive-thru option or if access is limited to specific people. Google says it’s working with VaccineFinder.org, government agencies, retail pharmacies, and other authoritative sources to gather the data on vaccination sites.
The initial rollout of coronavirus vaccines in the US has been slow and messy, as states have tried coordinate plans for appointments with little federal guidance.
“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,” Pichai writes in the post.