Searches for COVID-19 Vaccinations Have Skyrocketed in America

March 19, 2021
Briana Contreras

Americans are becoming more anxious to get the COVID-19 vaccine as additional vaccines are approved and doses are being distributed directly to United States retail pharmacies. According to NordVPN, Google searches in America for the vaccine are growing by 1,900% since January.

Americans are becoming more anxious to get the COVID-19 vaccine as additional vaccines are approved and doses are being distributed directly to United States retail pharmacies. According to NordVPN, Google searches in America for the vaccine are growing by 1,900% since January.

U.S. pharmacy chain Walgreens has received 1 million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses over the last week, according to the NordVPN report. The retail pharmacy has already offered vaccinations in 27 states with the additional batch ensuring they can offer the same service in 16 other states. Walgreens began in-store vaccinations in February and has been distributing them to CVS Health, Rite Aid and Walmart since December.

With a wave of availability for COVID-19 vaccines, Google Trends shared searches for where to get the vaccines and keywords "Walgreens vaccine appointment" rose by 7,000% in popularity since the start of 2021. Additional keywords such as "Walmart COVID vaccine" also rose above 2,100%.

Comparisons of the three search terms demonstrates the American people are prioritizing Walmart pharmacies over traditional pharmacies and healthcare institutions to get their COVID-19 vaccination. The query is six-times more popular than general inquiries about vaccination appointments and four times as frequent as Walgreens, the report said.

Mass vaccination will accelerate phishing campaigns

While these searches may be positive news, increasing online traffic is becoming a cybersecurity risk. A Verizon report shared people are now three times more vulnerable to COVID-related phishing scams. The number of reported cases has increased by 667% since the pandemic began.

It's urged to be aware because cybercriminals are looking to take advantage of opportunities that are presented as a result of the mass vaccination campaign as well.

"Cybercriminals will target sensitive data by impersonating healthcare institutions or pharmacies, and Americans eager to be vaccinated, could willingly disclose these very personal details," said Juta Gurinaviciute, chief technology officer at NordVPN Teams. "This demonstrates how phishing is a major concern today with these types of opportunistic targets."

The general public is also falling victim to profit-seeking cybercriminals who are falsely advertising vaccine availability online — an obvious scam that Americans should be more aware of. This is despite COVID-19 vaccines being commercially unavailable and distributed with government approval only.

Folks who were already vaccinated should also be cautious. The FBI recently warned against posting CDC vaccination cards on social media due to a rise in reports of identity theft and fraud.

If you want to encourage others to get vaccinated, it's suggested that people should choose other options like updating their profile picture on social media with a sticker or speaking directly to their peers instead.

The FBI also suggested healthcare institutions responsible for legitimate vaccinations should also consider further security measures to protect patient data, given the level of threat that cyber criminals currently pose.