California announced the launch Thursday of an automated chat system that offers factual information about COVID-19, with an emphasis on those in the state who primarily speak Spanish.
The chatbot, built using the Meta-owned instant messaging service WhatsApp, offers up-to-date information about the safety of the available COVID vaccines, where to find local vaccination sites and how to get a digital vaccination record.
State officials said the chat system is intended to dispel COVID misinformation, particularly among Spanish-speaking communities where the use of WhatsApp is prevalent to communicate both with other California residents and those in other countries.
Statewide, 75.2 percent of residents age 5 and up have completed their initial vaccination series. Among Latino and Hispanic residents, that figure is 59.3 percent, according to CDPH data.
“Our mission to keep California safe from the threat of COVID-19 is not over, and we must continue to keep our communities informed on how we can continue moving toward the new normal we all long for,” CDPH Director and state Public Health Officer Dr. Tomas Aragon said in a statement.
The chat system is available for free in both English and Spanish by texting “hola” to (833) 422-1090, according to the state Department of Public Health.