With the new Apple Maps update developed by Boston Children's Hospital, users can now search the nearest COVID-19 vaccine locations available.
On Tuesday, March 16, Apple rolled out the Maps update that displays facilities that offer vaccines against the coronavirus. Users can key their inquiry in the Apple Maps app, or they can ask Siri, "Where can I get a COVID vaccination?"
COVID-19 Vaccine Info At Your Fingertips
Aside from location pins indicating each available location, these indicators will also include the facility's operating hours, their exact address, contact numbers, and a link to the vaccine provider's website whenever available. Its Tuesday update has already included more than 20,000 locations, and Apple said that it would add more sites in the following weeks. With these new features, Maps users can learn more about what vaccines are available and even book their own appointments.
The new service comes from VaccineFinder, a free online service developed by Boston Children's Hospital that aims to increase awareness regarding the latest COVID-19 vaccine availability for eligible individuals - provided by care providers and pharmacies across the United States.
Aside from the data gathered by VaccineFinder and provided to Apple Maps, the tech giant also announced that other healthcare providers, laboratories, or other relevant businesses could register their businesses - and submit data for their COVID-19 testing - on the Apple Business Register website. Once Apple has validated these submissions, it will display its testing/ vaccination locations to its customers through services like Apple Maps and Siri.
Apple's Technology-Driven Response to the Pandemic
In its newsroom release, Apple explains that the VaccineFinder collaboration is the tech giant's latest effort to help its user base "navigate the pandemic" and take the right steps in protecting their own health. Since last year, Apple has updated its Maps app to display COVID-19 testing locations in other countries aside from the United States, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, The Netherlands, Taiwan, and Thailands.
Apple continues to team up with these countries' health agencies and various tech startups to provide accurate and real-time information about the pandemic and relevant statistics. Additionally, it has collaborated with its fellow tech giant, Google, to develop a contact tracing technology designed to work with their respective systems - the iOS and the Android - through a compatible API and OS-level techs that would streamline contact tracing.
Additionally, Apple Maps now include COVID-19 modules on its covered business place cards for about 4,400 locations. This feature allows businesses to convey additional related information to their customers, such as special hours.
Apple has also updated Siri to better help users find testing and vaccine sites and find available outdoor dining options or restaurants that can provide takeout meals. With Siri Audio Briefs, users receive the latest news and updates about the coronavirus pandemic, relaying short podcast episodes from reliable sources. Also, Siri can answer most COVID-related queries with responses direct from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Users can ask questions such as "How do I know if I have coronavirus?"
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