Where can you get a flu shot? Ask Google

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Google recently teamed up with the Department of Health and Human Services to create a map function that will let you find out where you can get both H1N1 and seasonal flu shots by simply entering in your zip code or home town. The recently launched “flu shot locator” is still in initial phases, and currently only has data for about 20 U.S. states, but developers say they are working to update the map with information for the entire country.

When you enter your zip code, a series of color-coded syringes crop up on the map—pink indicating seasonal flu vaccinations, blue for swine flu, and a mixture to show both are available. The service may prove more helpful once its updated, but currently information is lacking and inconsistent—only a handful of large pharmacies are included, though more will be added as the project continues, developers say—and many of those that do pop up show that they are out of stock. A recent search for flu shots in the Seattle area turned up five pharmacies (four Walgreens and a KMart), all of which were out of stock, and did not yet include any information for the numerous clinics and other facilities offering the vaccinations. Results were similar in a search of Houston, where just one pharmacy that had seasonal flu shots in stock was visible on the map. In other locations, results were better: a search in Minneapolis turned up six clinics (mostly inside CVS branches) with seasonal flu shots available, and plugging in New York City yielded more than 10 places to get flu shots, with availability of both seasonal and swine flu vaccinations.

Once the service is fully up and running, you will also be able to access it from the websites of the American Lung Association and at FLU.gov. Yet as we wait for more data to be added, even in these developmental stages the flu shot locator can serve as a good starting point for people wondering where to turn for vaccinations—for all locations, including those where no flu shots are currently listed as available, links are provided to more detailed state health department flu sites.