Alexa Maps Out the Nearest COVID-19 Vaccination Sites
Amazon has updated Alexa to guide users looking for a COVID-19 vaccine. The voice assistant can answer questions about vaccine eligibility and list nearby vaccination, a little over a year after it started providing answers about the virus.
Alexa users can ask about nearby vaccinations based on what’s nearby or by asking about a specific city. Alexa will list out the top locations and will call a location listed to help book the shot if asked. The vaccination option is an extension of a similar feature for finding places to get tested for the virus back released in February. Though eligibility requirements for the vaccine are mostly gone in the U.S., it’s not the same worldwide, so Amazon included the eligibility requirements for dozens of countries in Alexa’s database to answer those questions.
“Customers have continuously turned to Alexa for accurate and timely information about COVID-19. In fact, in the last year, Alexa has answered tens of millions of questions related to COVID-19 from customers around the world. To ensure Alexa always has the information customers need, we worked quickly to grow Alexa’s knowledge about COVID-19,” Amazon wrote in a blog post.
Coronavirus Answers by AI
How Alexa and other voice assistants respond to questions about COVID-19 has evolved considerably over since last March. Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa removed every non-governmental voice app related to the coronavirus from their catalogs to combat misinformation and rumors about the virus early on. Voice assistants have generally stuck to the CDC self-assessments and approved pandemic tips, along with a variety of songs about handwashing and mask-wearing. A year ago, Alexa made an exception for a skill about COVID-19 built by the Mayo Clinic but has not generally relented on restrictions for COVID-19 skills.