How to find the nearest COVID-19 vaccination center using WhatsApp
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc in India, Facebook-owned messaging giant WhatsApp has stepped up to help. The platform has teamed up with the MyGov Corona Helpdesk Chatbot to offer its services via WhatsApp chat as well.
On WhatsApp, the chatbot can help you locate the nearest COVID-19 vaccination center based on your PIN code.
How to use the chatbot to locate COVID-19 vaccination centers
To use the feature, save the MyGov Corona Helpdesk Chatbot's phone number (+91 9013151515) to your contact list. Open WhatsApp, find the contact, and send a message saying "Namaste" or "Hi".
An automated response will request your six-digit PIN code. Once entered, the chatbot displays COVID-19 vaccination centers in your area.
Alternatively, you can use this link (https://t.co/D5cznbq8B5?amp=1) to directly start messaging the chatbot.
WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart announced the latest chatbot integration
I am thinking of our friends in India going through such a difficult time with COVID andgrateful for all the work people are doing to help one another.We're working with health partners to support helplines on WA like this one from @mygovindia https://t.co/pqE0VGHQbK https://t.co/uhmyEN5U7f— Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) May 1, 2021
MyGov Corona Helpdesk chatbot on WhatsApp does a lot more
Besides assisting with vaccination center location, the chatbot also offers professional advice on improving immunity, a collection of success stories, a news fact-checker, a COVID-19 explainer, risk reduction tips, and COVID-19 updates. The chatbot is also available in Hindi.
Chatbot could help vaccination drive for those aged 18-44
The MyGov Corona Helpdesk was launched early last year when the pandemic was beginning to make its presence felt.
Since India has begun vaccination for those aged 18 through 44 from May 1, WhatsApp's timely initiative could prove useful.
WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart's tweet announcing the new feature suggests that the messaging platform may bring more such chatbots to help those affected by COVID-19.
You cannot book vaccination slots, or check availability using chatbot
Some of the other ways you can locate your nearest COVID-19 vaccination center include Google Maps, the Aarogya Setu app, and the Indian government's Co-WIN portal.
Although none of these platforms can rival WhatsApp in terms of ease of use, the chatbot doesn't yet show region-specific vaccine availability information. More importantly, the WhatsApp chatbot doesn't allow the booking of vaccination slots.
Truecaller also added a directory of designated COVID-19 hospitals
Recently, Truecaller had launched a region-specific directory of designated COVID-19 hospitals in India. Google Maps also added a tool that shows color-coded layers highlighting areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases.
WhatsApp's chatbot integration may not be a one-stop solution, but it reflects the platform's solidarity with India during the second wave of COVID-19 infections.