Google Can Help Find Vaccine With New Flu Shot Finder

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This week, Google expanded its Flu Trends website to include the “flu shot finder” that allows people in search of either an H1N1 flu vaccine or seasonal flu vaccine to easily find nearby locations offering the vaccines.

The flu shot finder can be found at www.google.com/flushot. The same tool also will be available on www.flu.gov and the American Lung Association's Web site, Google reported. After entering the zip code or city name, a series of color-coded syringes are shown on a map. Pink indicates the seasonal flu vaccine and blue indicates the H1N1 vaccine. For locations where there are no links currently available, detailed information for the state health department website is noted.

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The information database is a collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services, and contains data for locations in 20 states, from retailers such as Walgreens, CVS, Kmart, WinnDixie, and Giant Eagle. The goal is to continue to add information from chain pharmacies and other providers in all 50 states.

The site also contains a flu-tracking tool that includes 16 other countries, analyzing local patterns to determine the spread of influenza, most notably the H1N1 (swine) flu virus. Because of its international influence, the site is available in 38 languages.

Google worked closely with the HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local health agencies to gather the information. With slower than expected vaccine production, the company reports that it felt that it was important to bring together flue shot information in a coherent manner.

“It’s important to note that this project is just beginning and we have not yet received information about flu shot clinics for many locations,” the company cautioned. “In addition, many locations that are shown are currently out of stock. We launched this service now in order to help disseminate information about locations where vaccines are available, and also to make more vaccine providers aware of the project so that they can contribute.”

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