California: Combatting Misinformation Through a WhatsApp Chatbot


The California Department of Public Health utilized WhatsApp to reach Latino communities with correct information about COVID-19 vaccination.


In 2022, as California moved into the next phase of their COVID-19 response efforts, public health officials recognized the importance of combatting misinformation to increase the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, especially for the Latino population. In California, Latinos make up only 40% of the population but as of 2022, over 50% of COVID-19 related deaths. The California Health Department wants to meet Californians where they are and share reliable, accurate information on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines in English and Spanish through a trusted platform.


In April 2022, the California Department of Public Health launched a WhatsApp chatbot that provides information on COVID-19 vaccine safety, scheduling vaccination appointments, and answers to other frequently asked questions in Spanish and English. WhatsApp is a message application that is a popular communication channel among Hispanics in California and abroad. The WhatsApp chatbot was built in partnership with Meta. It is free and users access the chatbot by texting “hola” to 833-422-1090 or by scanning a QR code. While it does require that users have an internet connection, users can access the chatbot through a computer or smartphone that has access to Wi-Fi or data. Users navigate through the menu of options to locate the information that is relevant to them. The menu includes a “COVID-19 and Children” section, which allows parents and caregivers to review information on child vaccine safety, eligibility, minor vaccine consent, and school information. Launching this chatbot is one of the ways in which the California Department of Public Health is building on its strategies to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines through data-driven and equity-centered approaches to combat misinformation through trusted messengers.


The chatbot was launched about a month after the idea was first conceived. The press secretary for California’s Vaccinate All 58 campaign says that the collaborative partnership between the California Department of Public Health and Meta allowed for a quick turnaround of the chatbot. The partnership with Meta also allows the California Department of Public Health to promote the tool through Facebook.

Supplemental Resources


Years: 2022

Locations: California

Programmatic Areas: Adolescent Immunization, Adult Immunization, Communication, COVID-19

Key Words: Communication, COVID-19, Cultural Competence, Culturally Appropriate, Health Promotion, Immunization Education, Partnership, public awareness

Evidence Based: No

Evaluations: No

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