Facebook is rolling out “new tools” on its platforms to help people get vaccinated against Covid-19. The tools display data from the Boston Children’s Hospital locator tool (vaccinefinder.org) in the United States.
The initial roll-out, however, only claims accurate information for 7 states, and even then, for only “participating locations”. Even for locations shown, the data quality within each entry is poor, with no ability to see if there are available appointments at the top level interface. Testing of the system by TASBIA has shown errant web links to spam sites, refresh rates of once per day or less, and incomplete location data.
The locations identified in the new Covid-19 vaccine finder come from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Finder, a web-based system of vaccination providers. The tool from Boston Children’s Hospital recently launched in the US with the goal of helping people find Covid-19 vaccines, however, the effort is hampered by a decentralized reporting system.
Notwithstanding the limitations, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated “Now that many countries are moving towards vaccinations for all adults, we’re working on tools to make it easier for everyone to get vaccinated as well. First, we’re launching a tool that shows you when and where you can get vaccinated, and gives you a link to make an appointment,” Zuckerberg wrote in the post. “This will be in the Covid Information Center, which we’ll show people right in their News Feed.”
The goal for Facebook is to allow users to see where to access Covid-19 vaccines in their neighborhood, hours of operation, contact information and links to make an appointment. However, this initial launch may result in a letdown.
The TASBIA™ Bottom Line
Since Facebook is using the VaccineFinder.org data feed, their results are only as good as the underlying data.
VaccineFinder.org still only fully supports 7 states in the United States, and the data shown is reliant on largely manual uploads of “CSV files” from each location. Data Quality is poor, with many of the appointment links simply going to the “home page” of the commercial pharmacies or other locations. The site does not show any appointment availability information, rather, users are required to click each location and “drill down” manually, a time consuming and frustrating process.
The VaccineFinder.org site currently states:
This website includes the latest information on COVID-19 vaccine availability at certain providers and pharmacies in Alaska, Tennessee, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma, Utah, and New York State (excluding NYC). In other states, information may be limited while more providers and pharmacies are added in the coming weeks.
Right now, without some type of enforcement of data quality standards, we are still stuck in a “garbage in-garbage out” situation with the data that is being provided to the public. Without more attention paid to the data, any system, including Facebook, will only continue to frustrate users looking for COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
See Article from CNN News To help people find Covid-19 vaccines, Facebook debuts new features