Covid: New Town authorities launch WhatsApp chatbot to help residents book slots for jabs

A person has to carry the WhatsApp message confirming the booking to the vaccination centre.

The New Town authorities have launched a WhatsApp chatbot to help residents book slots for their Covid vaccine doses.

The chatbot has been designed so that people do not have to stand in a queue for hours in the summer heat for the Covid shot.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation had earlier introduced a similar chatbot.

Many residents of all three action areas of New Town have already booked slots through the chatbot.

One has to type “Hi” and WhatsApp it to 74396 05026 to initiate the process of booking a slot, said an official of the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA). “There will be a series of responses, to which the person has to keep replying to complete the process,” the official said.

“The person has to send the number of a government photo identity card such as Aadhaar card, Voter ID card and driving licence.”

One has to carry the WhatsApp message confirming the booking to the vaccination centre.

“Prospective vaccine recipients who have booked slots through the chatbox have to report to the designated vaccination centre at a specified time. This will help keep the queues short,” said an NKDA official.

NKDA chairman Debashis Sen said they had launched the chatbot to streamline the booking process for both first and second doses.

“Residents were complaining to us regularly that they were facing difficulty booking slots for vaccination. So we decided to come up with

this chatbot that will help streamline the process,” Sen said.

The chatbot, he said, is taking bookings for the two NKDA-run vaccine centres. One of them is located at the government bus depot near the Pride Hotel crossing and the other on the first floor of CB Market, near the New Town post office.

According to him, more than 1,500 people have already logged into the chatbot.

“Slots from Monday are being offered,” the official said.

Reetika Tandon, 37, a resident of a housing cooperative society in Action Area I, said she had booked three slots – for herself and her parents – through the chatbot.

“I had been trying in vain to book slots for my parents’ second dose and my first through the CoWIN portal. It showed that all slots were booked. Then I heard about the NKDA chatbot and I could book all three slots through it. The process was quite easy and I could do it in no time,” said Tandon.

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