Like all Americans, Texans waited almost a year for the COVID-19 vaccine to come out to start the process of ending the pandemic. But now that it’s out, the slow pace of vaccine distribution and confusion of where to get it is causing many to feel stuck in another waiting game.
However, Texas is one of the first states part of Google’s vaccine finder initiative, allowing Texans to find vaccine sites quickly through Google maps and search. Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google and Alphabet, announced the initiative on Jan. 25, and it is now available in Texas, Arizona, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Kisha Scott, account manager of One/35, said the vaccine finder is available for all Texas cities. For example, to find vaccines available nearby, Texans can simply type things like “COVID-19 vaccine Collin County” or “COVID-19 vaccine Plano” into the Google search bar.
The tool shows details about different vaccine locations, such as whether an appointment or referral is required, if it has a drive-thru and if vaccine access is limited to specific groups, according to Pichai’s announcement. To gather vaccine location information, Google is working with VaccineFinder.org, government agencies and pharmacies.
Texas, and the other three states are first for Google’s COVID-19 vaccine finder because they based it on “available vaccine information,” Scott said. National rollout of the vaccine finder “for all states is TBD.”
Collin County Vaccine Updates
On Wednesday, Collin County Health Care Services announced that it received 9,750 doses of the vaccine from the Texas Department of State Health Services for the first week of February.
On Thursday, CCHCS announced that it is scheduling appointments for those on the waitlist, along with the City of McKinney. Already, registration numbers are up to 29,565. Texas Health Resources has also scheduled 3,300 vaccine appointments for individuals on Collin County’s waitlist.
However, CCHCS also announced that the City of Frisco is not using Collin County’s waitlist. Instead, they have “elected to develop their own vaccine registration process to distribute the 7,800 vaccine doses provided to the city.”
To sign up for the City of Frisco’s waitlist, click here.
Additionally, on Tuesday, WFAA reported that CVS Health will start distributing COVID-19 vaccines at 70 pharmacies across Texas. Appointments become available as early as Feb. 9 and administering vaccines starting Feb. 11.
Plano is one of the first Texas cities where CVS will be offering vaccines, along with Abilene, Amarillo, Beaumont, Brownsville, El Paso, Houston, Laredo, Lubbock, Midland, San Antonio, and Waco. Those eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine can sign up online, through the CVS app or by calling 800-746-7287 once registration begins.
So far, those eligible for COVID-19 vaccines must meet requirements for TDSHS’ Phase 1A, health care workers and residents in long-term care facilities, or Phase 1B, those over 65 and 16 or older with chronic medical conditions, categories.
Other New Google Initiatives
The Google vaccine finder is just one part of the company’s latest effort to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. Pichai also announced that Google is opening up some of its facilities to act as vaccination sites.
According to Pichai, Google is starting by opening California sites in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, along with New York City and Kirkland, Washington. The company plans to expand this initiative nationally.
Google is also giving $100 million in ad grants to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation, the World Health Organization and non-profits worldwide, along with $50 million to public health agencies “to reach underserved communities with vaccine-related content and information,” Pichai wrote.
Google Cloud will also be helping various health care organizations, pharmacies, public institutions, and logistics companies use some of its technologies, such as Google’s AI and Intelligent Vaccine Impact Platform, to speed up vaccine distribution.
“We can’t slow down now,” Pichai wrote in the announcement. “Getting vaccines to billions of people won’t be easy, but it’s one of the most important problems we’ll solve in our lifetimes. Google will continue to support in whatever way we can.”