As COVID-19 vaccinations around the world ramp up to suppress the spread, Google today shared information on how it’s working to aid the rollout. It’s already added technical support user-side with things like surfacing vaccination locations in search and Maps, now it’s using the next best thing to help — cash.
Google is helping fund vaccination in more vaccine-hesitant communities in an effort to overcome vaccine hesitancy and improve vaccine equity. It will direct this funding to community organizations that would ideally have the best knowledge of how to serve their local community.
Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer, Google Health, explained on Thursday:
Google.org is providing $2.5 million in grant funding to Partners in Health, Stop the Spread and Team Rubicon, who are working directly with over 500 community-based organizations to serve Black, Latino and rural communities. This funding will go toward efforts like pop-up vaccination sites.
To make sure more people — especially those with limited internet access — can sign up for a vaccine, Google Cloud is launching an expanded virtual agent as part of its Intelligent Vaccine Impact solution (IVIs). People will be able to schedule vaccine appointments and ask common questions through a virtual agent, in up to 28 languages and dialects, via chat, text, web, mobile or over the phone.
Google is also giving aid to bodies who want to share more information about vaccines worldwide. The company is committing $15 million in Ad Grants to Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, to help it educate communities about vaccines. Gavi wants to help secure vaccines for less-wealthy countries as part of COVAX, and Google says it is helping them with free technical assistance, as well as matching employee donations towards Gavi.
Finally, Google plans to fund PSAs by public health organizations, sharing the importance and benefit of vaccines, even to non-English speaking communities. It has committed $250 million in Ad grants, a number the company says will fund “2.5 billion vaccine-related PSAs.”
Vaccination is seen as the most plausible path out of the pandemic by most public health bodies. As Google notes, the more people are vaccinated, the faster other non-pharmaceutical interventions to suppress the spread of COVID-19 can be dropped. As a good sign on how much progress is being made, it’s already confident it’ll be able to bring employees back to the office by September.
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