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11/12/2009
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Google Helps You Find A Flu Shot

Flu Shot Finder uses Google Maps to help people locate areas where they can get swine flu and seasonal flu vaccines.

Google Helps You Find A Flu Shot
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Google Flu Shot Finder
With flu vaccines in short supply, Google is stepping up to help people find places to get immunized by launching a flu shot finder application for Google Maps.

Flu Shot Finder is at www.google.com/flushot, and it works similarly to any other Google Maps application. Enter your address, press the "Go" button, and the application lays out icons on a map showing where to find flu shots in your area. The icons are shaped like hypodermic needles and color-coded: Red for seasonal flu shots, blue for H1N1 shots, and two-tone for both.

The tool is available on the American Lung Association Web site, as well as flu.gov, which is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Especially given slower than expected vaccine production, we think it's important to bring together flu shot information in a coherent manner," Google said on its official blog. "We've been working with HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local health agencies to gather information on flu vaccine locations across the country, particularly for the H1N1 flu vaccine (both the nasal-spray vaccine and the shot). At the moment we have data for locations of flu vaccine directly from 20 states and counting. We are also continuing to add information from chain pharmacies and other providers in all 50 states; today, you'll find results from chains such as Walgreens, CVS, and PDX participants, such as Kmart, Duane Reade, WinnDixie, and Giant Eagle."

People should call flu vaccine providers ahead of time to make sure that the vaccines are available, and that they're eligible to receive the shots, Google said.

Google is aggressively moving into the healthcare market. It's a business they were in without even trying; health is a top search topic, often, unfortunately, leading to misleading results. But Google is doing more than generic search; its Google Health business unit allows people to store their own and families' medical records, and receive personalized information and advice. Partners include Allscripts, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Longs Drugs, and Walgreens. Rival Microsoft has its own similar, competing service, HealthVault.

Google Flu Trends tracks the spread of flu by tracking the locations where people are searching for information about it, figuring that if people are searching for information about the flu, they or people close to them probably have it. It's now available in 20 countries and 38 languages, including the United States and England.


Blue Cross of Northeast Pennsylvania, the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and a range of large and small healthcare providers are using mobile apps to improve care and help patients manage their health. Find out how. Download the report here (registration required).

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