COVID-19 cases in India continue to remain in huge numbers, and tech giants (with people from all walks of life) are joining hands to provide relief. India’s most popular messaging platform WhatsApp has also added a new update to help users find the COVID-19 vaccine around them. The information is accessible via the MyGov WhatsApp chatbot – an automated chat within the app to help citizens find more accurate coronavirus-related information. The Facebook-owned platform launched the chatbot in April 2020, just a week after the Central government announced the first nationwide lockdown.
The process to find a vaccine centre is simple and users have to save the number 9013151515 on their Android or iOS smartphone. User can also use the chatbot via WhatsApp Desktop or Web by clicking on the link: wa.me/919013151515. Once the MyGov Corona Helpdesk chatbot is launched, WhatsApp users will need to send ‘hi’ or ‘hello.’ After a moment, an automated response will ask users to select an option for their COVID-related info – in this case, to find the vaccine centre nearest to their location. Notably, users can chat with the chatbot in Hindi by sending the text Hindi or हिंदी.
Following that, users will need to provide their pin code, and the app will respond with a list of vaccination centres. The MyGov Corona Helpdesk chatbot also provides information on the latest alerts on coronavirus, professional advice and ways to improve immunity, success stories, facts checker, and more. Users SHOULD note that the chatbot may take some time to reply to your responses.
Meanwhile, the government of India has allowed vaccination for everyone above 18 years of age. Although some states are struggling to provide vaccines due to shortages, the government assures normalcy soon. Citizens can also find vaccine centres via Google Maps by searching with keywords like ‘vaccination near me.’ To book appointments, users can use the Aarogya Setu app or CoWIN platform (web and Android app).