Boston Children's, Google create new tool that maps out 'vaccine deserts'

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Boston Children's Hospital, Google and Ariadne Labs launched a new interactive, data-driven vaccine equity planning tool June 9 to help officials locate "vaccine deserts," or places with limited access to COVID-19 vaccines. 

The Vaccine Equity Planner overlays millions of data points on a U.S. map to give users information needed to pinpoint vaccine deserts, target potential vaccination sites within these low-access areas and model the most effective sites to open to reach vulnerable populations. 

The tool uses data from VaccineFinder and Google on more than 50,000 vaccination sites, in addition to travel time data from Google, the CDC's social vulnerability index and data on vaccination intent from Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Mellon University's COVID-19 Symptom Survey.  

Users can also select the mode of transportation they want to use and the time they think people should have to travel to get a vaccine to identify where the deserts are. Users can also measure other risks/barriers to equity that populations face, such as number of unvaccinated people in the area, social vulnerability or intent to vaccinate. 

"We know that inequities exist in our healthcare infrastructure, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only cast a brighter light on those inequities," John Brownstein, PhD, chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital, said in the news release. "The Vaccine Equity Planner aims to identify vaccine deserts, areas with low access to COVID-19 vaccination sites, so public health officials and decision makers can intentionally place future vaccination sites in these areas to offer more equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations for all populations." 

Click here to view the Vaccine Equity Planner tool.


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