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!
Most of the time—and this makes me happy—parents are glad, even relieved, when I tell them that we have the flu shot and I’d like to give it to their child. But every year, there are some that aren’t so glad.
In fact, a study just released in the journal Pediatrics shows that of the 13% of parents who refuse or delay vaccines, it’s the flu shot that is most likely to worry them.
They get a particular look I’ve learned to recognize. It’s a skeptical, hesitant look. They pause for a moment, take a breath, and tell me they don’t want their child to have it.
I pause for a moment myself, take a breath, and ask them why. …
H1N1 and seasonal influenza beware – new heroes have arrived, ready to defend the population and fight a viral battle, via Facebook, in the form of ‘Flu Fighters!’
Developed by researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a new Facebook application called “I’m a Flu Fighter!” gives you the opportunity to mobilize and take action against the threat of influenza – by telling your friends that you got the H1N1/seasonal flu vaccine and encouraging them to do the same. Launching as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week, the app also provides information on influenza – including a flu vaccine locator – courtesy of HHS’s Flu.gov.
An unpublished, unverified Canadian research study, which suggests that people who got flu shots last season are twice as likely to contract swine flu, prompted 12 out of 13 Canadian provinces to hastily suspend their seasonal-flu vaccination programs earlier this week.
In contrast to the simultaneous H1N1 and seasonal-flu vaccination programs being conducted by the U.S. and many other countries around the world, Canada’s provincial governments have decided to put off their seasonal-flu vaccination program until after the H1N1 inoculations are completed, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. The vaccine suspensions however, do not apply to seniors above the age of 65, since they are more prone to catching seasonal flu. …