Apple Maps Now Lists COVID-19 Vaccination Sites
Nearly a year ago, Apple added COVID-19 testing sites to Maps (see “Apple Maps Now Displays COVID-19 Testing Sites,” 29 April 2020). Now Apple has added COVID-19 vaccination sites in the United States. You can either ask Siri, “Where can I get a COVID vaccine?” or search for sites by opening Maps, tapping the search field, and then tapping COVID-19 Vaccines under Find Nearby.
However, it’s not clear just how useful this feature will be right now since most states are limiting vaccinations to people who are both eligible and have an appointment at a predetermined location. Perhaps Apple is looking forward to the point when COVID-19 vaccines will be available to anyone on a walk-in basis, much like flu shots. Hopefully, the data will have improved by then as well. Josh Centers received his first Moderna shot at the fairgrounds in his county, but Maps didn’t list that site, showing only local pharmacies.
It’s also not accurate. It fails to list key sites for testing and vaccination in my area (Reno, NV) while just listing pharmacy’s. Interestingly, Google also doesn’t list these sites, despite them being added to Google maps by local government entities and medical centers. This is probably a failure of how such strategic information is sourced and maintained. Public transport and road closures have a standardized source but it doesn’t look like this is the case for public health. Disaster planning doesn’t seem to have a developed API mechanism.
It’s not accurate in NYC either. In my area, it’s only listing two pharmacies; there are large nearby city and state run facilities that are dispensing shots, and handle larger numbers of appointments than drug stores can. There are also pop up locations that come and go at schools, houses of worship and community centers that aren’t listed. If Apple can’t do an accurate job with what could be an important service, they should keep their cyber mouths shut until they can get it to work,
I concur, inaccurate information results in loss of trust. Neither Apple or Google show my county’s main drive up testing facility that’s operated in the same location for nearly (sadly) a year. How does Apple source this data? Popup locations are just as important to track, such sites must be registered with health authorities to legally function.
In NY the pop ups, like the medical locations, are either city and/or state government run or controlled. There are state and city vaccine finder websites that list locations for shots and links to set up appointments. And though it is somewhat easier to get an appointment now, Maps didn’t list the big dispensaries in two nearby hospitals, 1 high school, 1 college, or any of the pop ups or any of the other nearby drug stores or urgent care clinics. Apple should have done a better job.
Basically Apple is stuck playing a version of “whack-a-mole” as the vast majority of sites are temporary ones that may only open when there is sufficient vaccine. Where are the vaccines? If what the MSM reported is correct, the Feds bought enough vaccines to give every man, woman, and child in these United States whether legally or illegally one dose at an absolute minimum. Yet many sites are only given a handfull of doses and when they are gone, the site has to close until the Feds decide to allow more for that site.
Then there are places like California that changed their rules to give convicted felons priority over elderly citizens which further impacted the supply for the general public sites. So don’t blame Apple if a site pops up near you but is gone before Apple can add it to their data base.
I think a lot of this criticism of Apple—as opposed to the data itself, which was what we commented on—is unwarranted.
First off, this is very much a case of some data being better than no data, especially given that most people will have appointments to specific places that are mappable on their own.
Second, Apple is very clear that this information comes from a third-party—the VaccineFinder services developed by Boston Children’s Hospital. From the linked article:
Third, Apple has provided a way for data to be added to the system by appropriate businesses and other institutions.
Join the discussion in the TidBITS Discourse forum