Marco Vinicio Gonzalez
The federal government believes the COVID-19 pandemic has entered a new, less severe phase in the United States and plans to let the coronavirus public health emergency expire in May, along with free testing, treatment, and vaccines. And he also plans that the doses or vaccines be only once a year, as happens with the flu, he says Open line.
Faced with the danger of misinformation, California launched the “Chat Bot” months ago, a virtual and bilingual “messaging” tool on the WhatsApp platform, to answer questions and update the user on issues related to Covid: tests, treatments and vaccines…
Yurina Melara, press secretary for the California Government Office of Planning and Research in Sacramento, told Chelis López, host of Open linethat he chat boy “He seeks to be where our people are, and have a place to offer them reliable information.” It works 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
–I would like you to expand, how do you access this chat? asks Lopez.
“The first thing is to save this number in your phone: 833-422-1090. Then, go to the WhatsApp application, select the message icon and in the window that appears, write the word: Hello.
A menu of options will appear, from a vaccination center, or for the covid test. “And if you have a specific question, you can write it in the chat and the virtual assistant will answer it,” said Melara.
-¿Which of all these options offered by the chat is the one that our Latino community has sought the most?
“It varies a lot from month to month. In December the covid detection tests were free. Hence, the advice for traveling, and in November the booster vaccine.
–How available are the treatments, how often do they ask about treatments for children and adults?
“They have not been one of the main questions that the virtual assistant has received. But there are free treatments and you don’t need to have health insurance… people have gone more for prevention, looking for vaccines and tests”.
–Tell us about the real impacts that misinformation has caused in our community, Yurina.
“There have been many… But it is curious, in Mexico and in other countries people line up to be given the vaccine. And here we’re offering them for free, in different areas, and a lot of our people aren’t responding. For all the misinformation that exists on social media.”
In her opportunity, Melara says that one of the most frequent questions from people in chat is about the infertility that the vaccine could cause, “which is totally false.”
The information must be reliable, affirms the guest. “You cannot stay with what you see published, what the neighbor says or someone that we often do not even know, who is saying the wrong things. If you have doubts, it is best to confirm the information.
There are also hackers of confidential user data, warns López.
–What are the things the California government will never ask you for?
“The government is not going to ask for your Social Security number or any other affiliation or anything like that. What it will ask you for is your ZIP Code, to help you find the resources in the center that is closest to you”.
The end of the COVID-19 pandemic announced by the Biden administration also puts an end to the benefits that were being received during the pandemic, says López.
–What does this mean, what do people need to know?
“It means less money, from tests to vaccines, which are no longer free in March. There will be changes in the ways in which vaccines are marketed and distributed. The federal government is no longer going to buy batches of vaccines as it has done so far.
Through the virtual assistant, you can also obtain verification or a digital record of the vaccinations that you received, and save that record on your phone for occasions that require it•