Public Health Awarded COVID-19 Chatbot Program for Website – Mecklenburg County

 An innovative new program to inform the public about COVID-19 has been launched at Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH).  

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has announced the first winners in a competition to receive the Vaccine Information Resource Assistant (VIRA) chatbot. Mecklenburg County Public Health, along with public health organizations in Los Angeles and Boston, were selected to receive customized versions of the program which delivers credible and up-to-date answers to COVID-19 vaccine questions.  

“This is a new method to share COVID-19 information, answer questions and overcome misinformation. MCPH is excited to share this program with our community and we are honored that Mecklenburg County was chosen for the inaugural launch,” said Dr. Raynard Washington, director, Mecklenburg County Public Health. 

The program is live on MCPH website on the lower right side of the screen. Check out the MCPH COVID-19 chatbot! 

VIRA ( is an artificial intelligence or AI-based chatbot developed by the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and IBM that answers hundreds of questions about COVID-19 vaccines in both Spanish and English. The competition featured VIRA Local, a customized version aimed at large U.S. health departments with active health communications reaching large populations, including Spanish-speaking community members, to receive custom versions of the VIRA chatbot. Departments eligible for VIRA Local included states and large cities with more than 500,000 residents.