Home > General Info, Seasonal Flu > It’s Easy to Find a Flu Vaccine with HealthMap Vaccine Finder

It’s Easy to Find a Flu Vaccine with HealthMap Vaccine Finder

December 10, 2013

PrintIt’s National Influenza Vaccination Week and  it’s likely that some people haven’t received their flu shots yet. You should know that flu season has officially arrived and some states have already begun reporting flu-related deaths.  So if a flu vaccine is still on your to-do list, don’t wait any longer.  The HealthMap Vaccine Finder is here to help.

VaccineFinderImageThe HealthMap Vaccine Finder is a free, online tool that connects the public to vaccine providers in their neighborhood. In recent years, the number of alternative locations to receive a vaccine has significantly increased and you’re not just limited to receiving vaccines from your primary care provider.

But how do you know what your other options are? And how do you know what vaccines you may need?   

Simply check with the HealthMap Vaccine Finder

The first tool you might use on the website can be found here or by clicking on the “What Vaccines Do I Need?”.  If  you know you need a flu vaccine simply fill out the “Flu Vaccines” quiz to receive a personalized list of the different type of influenza vaccines that are approved for use in people like you, based on your age, history, and risk factors. You can learn more about any of the specific vaccines by clicking on them. Once you’ve identified which vaccine is appropriate for you and your family, you can search for providers that offer that vaccine in your community. Of course, you should always talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before receiving a vaccine to ensure that you’ve made the right choice for you.VaccineFinderFluRecs

When looking for influenza vaccines there are a several choices to consider.  The various types of vaccines available include the trivalent inactivated vaccine, the quadrivalent inactivated vaccine, and the quadrivalent nasal spray. The trivalent vaccine is the shot with which you are likely most familiar; it protects against three strains of influenza and is administered via injection to the upper arm or thigh. The quadrivalent vaccine is also an injection, but beginning this year offers protection against an additional strain of influenza.  There is a limited supply of this vaccine so if it’s not available at the time or location you visit it’s best to proceed with an alternative option.  Finally, the nasal spray is a needle-free option that offers quadrivalent protection for healthy people 2-49 years of age. There is even a high dose influenza vaccine which produces a stronger immune response and is especially designed for people age 65 and older.

The challenge for many parents is to select an appropriate vaccine for their children and to find a convenient location to receive it.  It’s important to know that each state has different regulations which may limit the ages at which retail clinics and pharmacies can administer vaccines.  If pharmacists in your state have age-related restrictions on vaccination, the Vaccine Finder recommendation tool will alert you that restrictions exist. Remember, you can always contact your pediatrician or family doctor for influenza vaccination or advice.

Another helpful feature of the Vaccine Finder website is the shortage reporter.  Anyone who experiences a shortage or stockout (which occurs when a provider normally offers the vaccine but is out of stock that day) can report the incident on our site using the “Report Flu Vaccine Shortages” link. When a report is received an icon appears on the provider’s listing that alerts others of a possible shortage. This prompts the provider to either update their information or double-check their supply. Once the provider confirms the supply, they can remove the shortage report. If you check with the Vaccine Finder website before you leave home, you will know in advance if another customer or patient has reported any supply problem at your intended provider. Similarly, if you experience any issues with supply or stockouts in your search for a flu vaccine, you can report the issue and inform others in your community.

HealthMap Vaccine Finder is a helpful resource when searching for locations that offer immunizations. By working closely with clinics, pharmacies, and health departments this service provides accurate and up-to-date information about vaccination services so that the public knows exactly where they can access life-saving vaccines.  If you are a provider who is interested in being listed on the map you can register here.  For more information be sure to visit the site at  http://vaccine.healthmap.org. You can even connect with us on Twitter (@VaccineFinder) and Facebook (facebook.com/vaccinefinder).

This post was written by Jane Huston, a program coordinator for HealthMap at Boston Children’s Hospital and manager of the HealthMap Vaccine Finder, a project that aims to increase adult immunization by making it easy to find recommended vaccines.  
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