SmartNews announced today that its tools, which help Japanese users find nearby COVID-19 vaccine bookings, reached more than a million users just a week after launch. The News Discovery Unicorn decided to create vaccination alerts and maps features for its Japanese app because many people there are frustrated with the speed of vaccine adoption. In the US, where vaccinations are much faster, SmartNews just released a feature that allows people today to find appointments by zip code.
The company has more than 20 million monthly active users in Japan and the United States.
According to a public opinion poll by Nippon TV, more than 70% of Japanese are unhappy with the slow adoption of vaccines. This assessment was confirmed in SmartNews’ own study, in which 900 people between the ages of 65 and 79 were interviewed at the beginning of April. More than 90% felt that there was not enough information available about when and where to get vaccinated. Challenges included the lack of a central portal for vaccine booking information, which meant that local government agencies and health care providers were inundated with questions.
SmartNews gathered information from 1,741 communities across Japan to create the vaccination alert and card. The Vaccination Alert informs users when they are eligible to be admitted based on their location, age, occupation and health conditions. The vaccine card combines data from approximately 37,000 facilities so people can see where bookings are available in their area or be notified when their healthcare providers are taking reservations.
The features were released on April 12th, the day vaccinations for the elderly in Japan started, and had more than a million users a week later. This is partly because SmartNews is one of the most popular news aggregator apps in the country, and also because the new features have been covered by TV Asahi, a major television broadcaster.
A company representative told . that many people who signed up for the vaccination features were already SmartNews users. However, new downloads have also been recorded as people share their vaccination appointments with friends and family.