As the number of COVID cases increases in India again, the country faces a big challenge: vaccinating 1.3 billion people. The first phase of India’s vaccination campaign kicked off on March 1 for senior citizens and those over 45 years of age with comorbidities. Even as our country gradually returns to regular work and life, COVID-19 continues to disrupt life for many. The second phase of vaccinations is now underway, potentially targeting 100 million people who can benefit from it.
As the government continues to manage the logistics of the vaccine rollout — one of the largest in the world — it has taken proactive steps to provide timely, accurate, and science-based information about the vaccines to the public. This is crucial because instances of misinformation and disinformation about the vaccine, its need, and its efficacy can seriously undermine this public health intervention.
As the health authorities in India have activated processes for these large-scale vaccinations, teams at Google have been hard at work to surface authoritative and timely information for people asking vaccine-related questions. Google has worked with the MoHFW (Ministry of Health & Family Welfare) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to amplify this science-based narrative around vaccination drive. It has also been working closely with the Rapid Risk Response team at the MoHFW that is tracking misinformation using social media listening tools across regions and languages and countering it with science-based messaging on vaccines and pandemic response overall.
Shortly after the first phase of vaccinations commenced, to help people find credible information, Google rolled out knowledge panels in Google Search that show up for queries relating to the COVID vaccine. These panels provide consolidated information such as details on the two vaccines, effectiveness, safety, distribution, side effects, and more, and is available in English and eight Indian languages (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, and Hindi). This information is sourced from MoHFW, and provides answers to commonly asked questions, displays real-time statistics around vaccinations completed, and provides links to the MoHFW website for additional local resources.
Other Initiatives for Vaccine Information
Google teams also supported the MoHFW in helping optimize their website for mobile viewers by improving the website’s page load times, enabling users to find information swiftly. We also helped localize their various vaccination resource pages into the eight Indian languages listed above.
On YouTube, Google launched information panels that show up when searching for COVID-related queries and also have a banner on the YouTube homepage, both of which redirect to key vaccine resources on the MoHFW website. We also featured FAQ videos from the MoHFW on the YouTube homepage.
With vaccinations for the vulnerable population having commenced from 1st March in thousands of hospitals across the country, Google is also working with the MoHFW and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accurately surface the information on vaccination centers on Google Search, Maps and Google Assistant, and expect to roll this out in the coming weeks.
To enable government officials to make critical decisions during these vaccination rollouts, Google also delivers regular Google Trends reports on COVID vaccine queries that reflect interest around the vaccination from month to month across regions.