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HealthMap

Looking for the flu shot? We can help with that

by Tom Ulrich on September 28, 2012

A vaccine offers prevention against the flu

The season is upon us again. No, not fall or football or even holiday—I’m talking about flu season, and all the sneezing, aches and pains that come along with it.

Yesterday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made their annual announcement encouraging Americans young and old to get a flu shot.

“Getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to prevent influenza, which is a serious disease that can result in hospitalization or death, especially for young children or people with underlying health conditions,” says Thomas Sandora, MD, MPH, an infection control expert and epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Flu is very contagious and can be spread from one person to another even before symptoms develop, so having a high proportion of people vaccinated is important to help limit transmission of the virus during flu season.”

Clearly getting the flu shot is a good idea; especially for families with young children, but one of the questions that at least my family asks every year is where can we get the shot? After all, we have more options now than ever. The corner drugstore? Our doctors’ office? Our neighborhood’s health clinic? And how much does it cost?

We’re not alone, and luckily a tool offered by Boston Children’s HealthMap team can help. Called the HealthMap Vaccine Finder, it’s essentially like a Google Maps for tracking down the flu vaccine. Plug in your address and city or zip code, and it pulls up a map listing pharmacies, clinics, etc. in your area offering the vaccine.

Apart from basic information like address, hours and phone number for each location, the tool can also tell you which kind of flu vaccine they offer (shot, intradermal shot, high-dose shot or nasal spray), what they charge (if anything) and whether they accept insurance.

There’s even a function to help you figure out which version of the flu vaccine could be appropriate for you.

“People sometimes have a hard time deciding where to get a flu shot because there are lots of factors involved in the decision,” says John Brownstein, PhD, who leads the HealthMap team and who last year showed how getting the shot really can make a difference. “We’ve been working with lots of different companies and agencies to pull all information on location, price and vaccine type together into one place for consumers. We hope it helps encourage more people to get the shot.”

You can use the finder here:

Or by visiting flu.gov. Keep checking it, because later this year the HealthMap team will expand the Vaccine Finder to include information on another 10 adult vaccines (hepatitis A, hepatitis B, HPV, MMR, meningococcal, pneumococcal, Td, Tdap, varicella and zoster).

And webmasters and bloggers: Help your readers and users get vaccinated by putting this Vaccine Finder widget on your website!

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Contagion fever hits Children’s

by Tripp Underwood on September 9, 2011

On September 9, the new feature film Contagion from Warner Bros. Pictures, Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi will be released in theaters nationwide. The picture sports an all-star cast and revolves around a rapidly spreading virus that threatens to infect millions of people.

Of course it’s a fictional movie, but that’s not to say it’s completely fake. The film’s depiction of how public health workers track the deadly outbreak shows them using a technology similar to HealthMap, a real-life online surveillance system designed to track emerging infectious disease threats. Co-founded by John Brownstein, PhD and Clark Freifeld of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Informatics Program, HealthMap has over a million users a year including regular users from the World Health Organization, the CDC and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Full story »

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This week on Thrive: May 17 – May 21

by Tripp Underwood on May 23, 2010

Here’s a look at what Thrive did this week.

A cutting-edge tool called a chromosomal microarray could help make genetic testing for disabilities more accurate and help explain their causes. David Miller, MD, PhD, clinical geneticist in the Division of Genetics at Children’s Hospital Boston talked to Thrive about the findings, and what they mean for the future of genetic testing.

A study published in the latest issue of Pediatrics takes a closer look at the relation between the ingestion of certain pesticides and cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. Children’s Hospital Boston’s Robert Wright, MD, MPH, and David Bellinger, PhD were co-authors on the study. Wright explained to Thrive readers what the study found and what it means for parents.

Full story »

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Like Google Maps HealthMap uses pin drops to indicate areas of interest based on a search term

Like Google Maps, HealthMap uses pin drops to indicate areas of interest based on a search term

Children’s Hospital Boston, in association with Harvard Medical School, just launched an updated version of HealthMap, a web-based global surveillance tool used to monitor infectious diseases and their effect on the populations where outbreaks occur. Co-created by John Brownstein, PhD of Children’s Informatics Program, the webpage is an easy to read site that operates in real time and lets users track current disease outbreaks by pulling data and news stories from over 20,000 sources.

With as many as 150,000 visitors a day, HealthMap has users from all reaches of the medical community. From concerned moms keeping an eye on a rash of new chicken pox cases in their hometown to members of the World Health Organization collecting aggregated data on the pattern of H1N1 outbreaks in rural China, HealthMap is a user-friendly way for people of all backgrounds to quickly assess data and news stories on infectious disease, from anywhere in the world as they are occurring.

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This week on Thrive: Jan. 11 – 15

by Boston Children's Hospital staff on January 17, 2010

Children’s research made the Huffington Post’s Top 10 Medical Research Trends to Watch in 2010. We find out exactly how dangerous secondhand smoke is to children. Are American destined to be obese? Two studies show how important a good night’s sleep for your children is. A gene for a devastating kidney disease is discovered. Do you know the dangers of leaving your child in the car alone? Dr. Rich responds to comments on his Call of Duty post. Have Americans finally hit an obesity plateau? The Flu Fighters invade Facebook. Children’s sends a team into Haiti and we offer advice on how to talk to your children about this devastating event.

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Children's research part of top 10 medical research trends

by Kristin Cantu on January 11, 2010

Outbreaks Near MeThird on the list of the Huffington Post’s Top 10 Medical Research Trends to Watch in 2010, is “the Health Internet,” the brain child of Isaac Kohane and Ken Mandl, from Children’s Hospital Informatics Program (CHIP).

Last fall, a group of leading thinkers and entrepreneurs from a variety of sectors gathered to discuss an idea that originated with Harvard’s Isaac Kohane and Ken Mandl — the development of an “iPhone-like platform” for health information technology (HIT), a more open and flexible approach than the architecture currently being contemplated, and one that holds greater promise for creating a consumer-oriented “Health Internet.” Obama Administration officials pledged at the meeting to have a pilot effort launched that could have real-time patient data accessible online this year.

The Children’s Hospital Informatics Program (CHIP) has been instrumental in connecting the public with health care issues through technology. CHIP created HealthMap, a website, blog and an iPhone app that tracks disease outbreaks in real-time. We featured their weekly H1N1 tracking updates over the last several months here on Thrive.

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Top pediatric health stories of 2009

by Claire McCarthy on December 29, 2009

McCarthyClaire_dsc0435From swine flu to obesity to dangerous plastics, many issues that affect children’s health garnered media attention in the year 2009. Here’s a rundown of the some of the biggest and most important stories:

H1N1

This is the story that caught the most attention—for good reason. Not only is the H1N1 influenza virus very contagious, it appears to particularly affect young people. H1N1 caused more pediatric hospitalizations and deaths than we usually see with the seasonal influenza virus, which is very scary for parents (and pediatricians!). The virus led to countless school closings—sometimes to control the spread, and sometimes because there weren’t enough teachers left to teach! Full story »

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This week on Thrive: Dec. 7 – 11

by Boston Children's Hospital staff on December 13, 2009

Here’s a quick look at what Thrive was up to last week.

Why are suicide clusters more common in teens? Children’s Global Fellow Stephen Sullivan, MD, MPH, addresses the global burden of surgical diseases. KABC in Los Angeles interviewed Children’s Hanno Steen, PhD, about a urine test that quickly identifies cases of appendicitis. Children’s Center for Young Women’s Health youth advisor, Erica, writes a compelling review of the movie, Precious. The HealthMap team gives us our final H1N1 update. David Ludwig, MD, PhD, director of Children’s Optimal Weight for Life Program, just published a commentary in JAMA expressing concern about the widespread use of artificial sweeteners in soft drinks. Our Mediatrician talks about how negative portrayals of black women in movies affects teens. We give a roundup on all of the news this week on the fight for what our children should be eating and drinking.

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