Stories about: Flu vaccine

Looking for the flu shot? We can help with that

A vaccine offers prevention against the flu

The season is upon us again. No, not fall or football or even holiday—I’m talking about flu season, and all the sneezing, aches and pains that come along with it.

Yesterday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made their annual announcement encouraging Americans young and old to get a flu shot.

“Getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to prevent influenza, which is a serious disease that can result in hospitalization or death, especially for young children or people with underlying health conditions,” says Thomas Sandora, MD, MPH, an infection control expert and epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Flu is very contagious and can be spread from one person to another even before symptoms develop, so having a high proportion of people vaccinated is important to help limit transmission of the virus during flu season.”

Clearly getting the flu shot is a good idea; especially for families with young children, but one of the questions that at least my family asks every year is where can we get the shot? After all, we have more options now than ever. The corner drugstore? Our doctors’ office? Our neighborhood’s health clinic? And how much does it cost?

We’re not alone, and luckily a tool offered by Boston Children’s HealthMap team can help. Called the HealthMap Vaccine Finder, it’s essentially like a Google Maps for tracking down the flu vaccine. Plug in your address and city or zip code, and it pulls up a map listing pharmacies, clinics, etc. in your area offering the vaccine.

Apart from basic information like address, hours and phone number for each location, the tool can also tell you which kind of flu vaccine they offer (shot, intradermal shot, high-dose shot or nasal spray), what they charge (if anything) and whether they accept insurance.

There’s even a function to help you figure out which version of the flu vaccine could be appropriate for you.

“People sometimes have a hard time deciding where to get a flu shot because there are lots of factors involved in the decision,” says John Brownstein, PhD, who leads the HealthMap team and who last year showed how getting the shot really can make a difference. “We’ve been working with lots of different companies and agencies to pull all information on location, price and vaccine type together into one place for consumers. We hope it helps encourage more people to get the shot.”

You can use the finder here:

Or by visiting flu.gov. Keep checking it, because later this year the HealthMap team will expand the Vaccine Finder to include information on another 10 adult vaccines (hepatitis A, hepatitis B, HPV, MMR, meningococcal, pneumococcal, Td, Tdap, varicella and zoster).

And webmasters and bloggers: Help your readers and users get vaccinated by putting this Vaccine Finder widget on your website!

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The end of summer means the start of flu season

Come on, folks, roll up your sleeves—and your kids’ sleeves, too. Summer’s officially over and it’s time for the flu shot.

Every year, I’m caught off guard by how many people don’t want to get a flu shot. There are lots of people who are happy to get them—anxious, even—but I’m always surprised by how much I end up being a flu shot salesman.

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Top pediatric health stories of 2009

McCarthyClaire_dsc0435From swine flu to obesity to dangerous plastics, many issues that affect children’s health garnered media attention in the year 2009. Here’s a rundown of the some of the biggest and most important stories:

H1N1

This is the story that caught the most attention—for good reason. Not only is the H1N1 influenza virus very contagious, it appears to particularly affect young people. H1N1 caused more pediatric hospitalizations and deaths than we usually see with the seasonal influenza virus, which is very scary for parents (and pediatricians!). The virus led to countless school closings—sometimes to control the spread, and sometimes because there weren’t enough teachers left to teach!

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Kids' swine flu shots recalled; lost some of their potency

cdcIn case you missed it, the CDC today recalled 800,000 H1N1 vaccine doses meant for children, age 6 months to nearly 3 years old because they lost some of their strength after being released to the public. The good news is that there are no risks to any child who was vaccinated and you don’t need to get your child re-vaccinated if he or she got doses from the recalled batch; it just may be that your child isn’t quite as protected from H1N1 as you originally thought.

Check out the CDC’s Q&A on the topic.

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