“WhatsApp Doc,” a WhatsApp chat group where doctors, physicians and other medical professionals answer patients’ medical questions, will focus their efforts on assisting parents with questions and concerns about vaccinating their children against COVID-19.
Midaat, a non-profit association committed to advancing public health in the areas of health care and preventative medicine, founded WhatsApp Doc in 2016 to provide remote medical assistance. The app has grown in utility and popularity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participating medical professionals are added to WhatsApp groups that prospective patients can reach out to. Patients can contact the groups via online form, email or – naturally – WhatsApp chat. Midaat’s WhatsApp Doc app has mediated disputes between residents of cooperative communities, such as kibbutzim and moshavim, over questions regarding vaccinations.
The announcement comes as Israel mulls distributing the fourth dose of approved COVID-19 vaccines to elderly and immunocompromised patients and Israeli government departments internally debate further approving the shot.
Israel’s Pandemic Response Team and COVID-19 Vaccination Advisory Board recommended that Israel administer the fourth shot to those most at risk, including people who are immunocompromised, the elderly and medical workers. Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said the campaign would start Sunday, December 26th, although Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash had not yet approved the decision nor issued a formal decree as to how the campaign will run.
Many in Israel are also hesitant to vaccinate their young children, for whom the vaccines were approved in November.
Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman contributed to this report.