WASHINGTON — Apple is making it easier for Americans to find COVID-19 vaccination sites.
In a blog post on Tuesday, the company said it has updated its Apple Maps to show where users can get a coronavirus vaccine anywhere in the United States. Users can find nearby vaccination locations from the search bar in Apple Maps by selecting "COVID-19 Vaccines" in the "Find Nearby" menu or by simply asking Siri, “Where can I get a COVID vaccination?”
Each vaccine site listed in Apple Maps will include information like operating hours, the address of the site, phone numbers, a link to the provider’s website and a way for users to book an appointment.
Apple said it uses data from VaccineFinder, a free, online service that provides vaccine availability data. The program is developed by Boston Children’s Hospital, and it works with clinics, pharmacies, and health departments to provide accurate information about vaccination services.
"The update is the latest effort from Apple to help users better navigate the pandemic and take the proper steps to protect their health," Apple said in the blog post.
The company added that its initial rollout will include more than 20,000 vaccination sites, with more coming in the next few weeks.
The new tool will also allow health care providers, labs, or other businesses to submit information on COVID-19 testing or vaccination locations on the Apple Business Register page. Once the details are validated, Apple said it will display information about the testing of vaccination location to people using Apple Maps.
Health officials have been urging Americans to get vaccinated when it's their turn. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's leading infectious-disease scientist and the public face of the nation’s fight against COVID-19, said that the vaccines have been extensively tested and are trustworthy.
Fauci has estimated that somewhere between 70% and 85% of the U.S. population needs to get inoculated to stop the scourge in the country.
President Joe Biden last week announced his plan to make all adults vaccine-eligible by May 1 and “begin to mark our independence from this virus” by the Fourth of July.
He also announced moves to speed vaccinations, including lifting eligibility qualifications, deploying an additional 4,000 active-duty troops to support vaccination efforts and allowing more people — such as medical students, veterinarians and dentists — to deliver shots.