The Biden administration’s version of a COVID-19 vaccine-finding website launched today, along with a Spanish-language version, text messaging tool, and phone hotline.
The new website, vaccines.gov, is a new version of VaccineFinder, a site run through a partnership between Boston Children’s Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. VaccineFinder was originally created during the 2009 swine flu outbreaks and has hosted COVID-19 vaccine information for the past few months.
The new version has the same features as the old site. It lets people locate sites offering COVID-19 vaccines nearby, shows which vaccines are on offer at each location, and says if the vaccines are in stock or not. “In stock” does not necessarily mean there are appointments available, just that the site has shots on hand. People cannot make appointments directly through vaccines.gov — the website directs them to the vaccination site’s registration system.
There is now also a Spanish-language version of the site, found at vacunas.gov. There are few COVID-19 vaccination resources available for people in the US who do not speak English. Limited access to non-English vaccine information is the subject of a new federal civil rights complaint filed by the National Health Law Program. In 11 states, health departments have no non-English information available on their websites, a Type Investigations report found.
Along with the website, the Biden administration is launching a text messaging tool and phone line to connect people with vaccination sites. The phone line will be promoted in rural areas without reliable internet, Bloomberg reported. Older adults and other groups not comfortable using the internet struggled to sign up for vaccination appointments early on in the US vaccine campaign.
The rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in the US is starting to slow now that most people who were eager to get vaccinated have already received shots. The next step is reaching people who aren’t going to actively seek out a shot, or who may have questions about it. Over 100 million people in the US are fully vaccinated, as of April 30th.