The chatbot was launched last year to help tackle misinformation and share authentic information about COVID-19.
WhatsApp chatbot MyGov Corona Helpdesk now lets you find nearest COVID-19 vaccination centres, MyGovIndia, government of India’s citizen engagement platform has announced. The chatbot was launched last year to help tackle misinformation and share authentic information about COVID-19. It has been developed by Mumbai-based conversational AI platform Haptik.
“Prepare, don’t panic,” MyGovIndia wrote on Twitter as India kicked-off its largest vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus on May 1 (with registrations beginning from April 28). Considering that the MyGov Corona Helpdesk is one of the largest API-based helplines integrated with the country’s biggest messaging platform, WhatsApp, it is only befitting that it is getting this new ability to find nearest vaccination centres.
Find your nearest vaccination center right here, through the MyGov Corona Helpdesk Chatbot! Simply type ‘Namaste’ at 9013151515 on WhatsApp or visit https://t.co/D5cznbq8B5. Prepare, don't panic! #LargestVaccineDrive #IndiaFightsCorona pic.twitter.com/qbfFlr5G0T
— MyGovIndia (@mygovindia) May 1, 2021
For some context, the government only recently revealed the chatbot had crossed the 3-crore user mark to become a “bridge between citizens and government and ensure dissemination of authentic information, curb rumours, myths and misinformation” in relation to the pandemic.
How to use MyGov Corona Helpdesk to find nearby COVID-19 vaccination centres:
- The chatbot is accessible on both mobile and desktop versions of WhatsApp on this number: +91 9013151515.
- Typing a simple “Hi” or “Hello” will generate an automated response from the chatbot.
- At this stage, the chatbot will give you a list of options (or queries) to choose from. With the new update, “COVID vaccination – Centres and authentic information” becomes option 1. This means, should you be looking to get vaccination-related information, you need to type 1.
- Next, the chatbot will ask you if you’re looking for vaccination centre-related information or simply authentic information about COVID vaccination. This means, if you’re looking to find a nearby vaccination centre, you need to type 1.
- The chatbot will then ask you to type-in your 6 digit postal PIN code.
- In response, the chatbot will give you a list of centres closest to you along with the date when vaccination will be available at that centre and also the number of slots available. Turns out, we were unable to find any slot for 18-44 in our vicinity (in Dwarka, New Delhi). Slots were only available for 45+ at the time of filing of this report. Your mileage, of course, will vary depending on your location.
- The response will be accompanied by a link to CoWIN portal where you can register (in case you haven’t already) and sign-in for vaccination. The next steps, including booking an appointment, will be done via CoWIN.
Note that responses are delayed (sometimes by over 10 minutes) at this point of time — possibly due to heavy traffic — so just in case, you don’t receive a prompt immediately, don’t panic or be disheartened. The chatbot is working fine (and so is your WhatsApp).