Poorly designed websites. Scarce slots that open and close in the same breath. Broken links and crashing sites. For most, securing a vaccine has been as tricky as it is essential for you and your loved ones’ health.
Tech connoisseur Joanna Stern from The Wall Street Journal, who recommended Visualping as a tool to score slots, says registering for the vaccine is like a cross between “Vegas poker and the Hunger Games.”
That’s why Facebook, Apple and Google have recently swooped in and launched new vaccine tools for users to search for potential vaccine locations plotted out on maps. The aim is to help people learn where and how to get vaccinated in their area.
The information comes from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s VaccineFinder, a website for locating vaccination providers. Google is also working with “government agencies and retail pharmacies” to provide its vaccine location data.
But there’s a catch. Although the vaccine tools suggest locations for where doses might be administered, they don’t tell you if slots are actually available.
That’s been Visualping.io’s job since late last year, when the vaccines were first approved by the FDA.
For many, securing a slot has been the most treacherous part of getting the vaccine. That’s why thousands of people, across the U.S., have been using Visualping, the top website change detection tool, to monitor not just nearby vaccine availability, but to be alerted the moment slots become available. This is a feature neither Facebook, Apple or Google have accommodated at this point.
So. How do these vaccine tools really compare? Read on for a comparison between Visualping and Facebook, Apple and Google’s vaccine tools.
Double click on a cell for a breakdown of the vaccine tool’s features.
“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.”
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and cofounder, made the official announcement on Facebook. “This will be in the Covid Information Center, which we’ll show people right in their News Feed.”
The vaccine tool connects Facebook users with information on potential vaccine locations in their neighborhood, hours of operation for vaccination sites, contact information and links to make an appointment.
That is, if slots are available. Unless you use Visualping to recieve real-time alerts of vaccine availability, you have to manually check these websites yourself.
There are also increasing concerns of rampant misinformation on Facebook. The Los Angeles Times says tens of thousands of comments on Zuckerberg’s announcement revealed users think of the vaccines as “poison”, and praised the use of hydroxychloroquine – which hasn’t been proved to reduce mortality from COVID-19. CNN Business says Facebook groups protesting against vaccines are still easy accessible on the platform.
On mobile, tap the three lines in the bottom right, select See More and then tap “Covid-19 Information Center.” If you’re on your computer, click See More on the left toolbar, and you’ll see it there.
To use the tool, you have to be a U.S. Facebook user.
Meanwhile, Visualping is available to anyone in the world with an email account and access to a desktop and/or mobile.
Facebook, Apple and Google’s vaccine tools are fairly similar. They each provide people easier access to potential vaccine sites plotted on a map.
As it’s an Apple product, you can only access it on an iPhone or iPad.
Like Facebook, the locations include addresses, hours of operation, phone numbers and website links to book an appointment (if slots are available).
Simply open the Apple Maps app, and search “Where can I get a Covid vaccination?” The nearest locations will appear.
Like the others, you can use Google Maps to search for possible vaccine sites. The suggested locations, plotted on a map, show contact information, hours of operation, and even current eligibility groups.
Similarily, Visualping can send you real-time alerts of eligibility updates from your local government, pharmacy or clinic page.
Simply open Google Maps on your desktop, phone or tablet, and search “Covid vaccines”. You’ll see a list of the nearest sites offering vaccines.
App aside, you can also search “Covid vaccine” in Google proper to see an overview of vaccine doses in the country, compared to worldwide doses, as well as information on vaccine side effects, statistics, effectiveness, priority groups and other useful information.
But Google doesn’t notify you when this information updates. You can use Visualping to monitor this page and receive regular alerts of, say, the percentage of your country’s vaccinated population.
Fox News, The Washington Post and NBC, among others, have recommended Visualping as a nifty tool to receive alerts of available vaccines in your area. You can also receive other vaccine-related updates, including your area’s eligibility groups.
As opposed to using Facebook, Apple or Google to type your Covid vaccine enquiry, swipe through the map for a location, click the website link and manually check for available slots, Visualping checks these pages for you.
When new slots become available – perhaps at your local pharmacy, or that clinic just around the corner, Visualping sends you an email alert. You just have to decide which pages are best to monitor, first.
Visualping also connects anybody to this information – regardless of where you are in the world, and whether you’re on Facebook, or if you have Apple products.
By making your first Visualping monitor, you also register your account.
Simply copy and paste the URL of the page you want automatically checked into the search bar on Visualping’s website.
Then you customize the settings (the part of the page you want checked, frequency of checks, whether you want to monitor visual, text or HTML). For monitoring vaccine-related pages, we recommend Visual-compare – when page changes are detected, Visualping sends you an easy-to-read screenshot.
Once you click “Start Monitoring”, Visualping sends you an email to verify the address and submit a password. And that’s it – you’ve registered with Visualping, and made your first monitor.
Visualping does not send you any marketing campaigns or spam. The only emails you’ll receive are of change alerts from the pages you’re tracking, which you can unsubscribe to any time.
So, while Facebook, Apple and Google now provide some new tools to help people learn about vaccines and where they may be able to get vaccinated, they’re not the only gadgets to leverage in your mission to snag a slot.
Perhaps it’s not so much a matter of comparing the tools, but using them together, in tandem, to fashion together the optimal vaccination strategy. Apple, Facebook and Google can tell you the closest location to get the vaccine, and, if the slots are full, Visualping can tell you exactly when.