The Google flu shot finder helps concerned parents ferret out available H1N1 vaccine doses or even just the seasonal flu shot. Yet is google.com/flushot really a viable alternative to the grapevine?
Google Flu Shot Finder Might Be Your Ticket to Hard to Find Flu Vaccine
While the Obama Administration promised Americans between 80 to 120 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine before Halloween, the Washington Post reports that only about 16.5 million vaccines have been delivered. Scrambling for answers, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius points an accusing finger to flu shot manufacturers. Jostling for vaccines to at least get children inoculated, parents are relying on “grapevine news” and now hope to find a powerful ally in the Google flu shot finder.
Google Flu Shot Finder: What It Is and How It Works
Access the Google flu shot finder at google.com/flushot, and you are treated to a map of the United Stats. Enter your zip code and you have the option of searching for seasonal flu shots, H1N1 flu shots, or venues that offer both vaccinations. The goal of the flu shot finder is the creation of a coherent clearing house for flu vaccine availability information. At this time, google.com/flushot is still only revving up, and as such does not have access to all clinics offering the flu vaccines. ABC News reports that thus far only 20 states are in the flu shot finder system, while the map is almost complete with information provided by national chain pharmacies.
Before You Head Out for Your Dose of H1N1 or Seasonal Flu Vaccine
The Google flu shot finder can only point you into the direction of healthcare providers and pharmacies that currently report to have flu vaccine available. The flu shot finder cannot guarantee that a) the vaccine will be available when you get there and b) that you will qualify to receive a dose. Moreover, some clinics offering the H1N1 vaccine are not on the list.
For example, Long Beach’s Columbia Pediatrics currently does have H1N1 flu vaccine available. This clinic is not on the Google flu shot finder list. That being said, even if it were, the clinic does not dispense H1N1 vaccine doses to all children, but due to limited quantities of available vaccines only gives them to kids, who are in the highest of high risk groups. Children with heart disease, cancer and a variety of other serious illnesses are at the top of the list for receiving the vaccine. Other patients are asked to wait or make use of flu vaccine clinics held at local school.
Parents may be wise to keep a close ear to the grapevine — in addition to using the Google flu shot finder in the hopes of finding the H1N1 vaccine of even just the seasonal flu shot.