Texting to tackle the flu

We're gearing up to this year's flu season. Here's a flu vaccination resource guide and a fun story about a TACKLEFLU texting contest.
Written by Denise Amrich, Contributor

Image courtesy of Flickr user @alviseni.

It's a great time in history for fun new applications of tech in the health field.

Today I read in the news about how North Carolina's Guilford County is participating in a public health campaign where people are entered into a drawing for pro sports tickets when they sign up for text messages to remind them to get their influenza vaccines. All they have to do to sign up is to text TACKLEFLU to 94253 (unless you live in North Carolina, it probably doesn't make sense to do that).

We're gearing up to this year's flu season, which normally starts around October (although vaccines can be found earlier in some areas). Your local health department is a great source of information for what formulations of the vaccine will be available near you, and exactly when. More and more pharmacies and supermarkets are making the flu vaccine available, and in some places it may even be free.

It makes sense to me to get vaccinated early in the season in order to be as protected as possible all throughout the season, likely before any exposure to the influenza virus has occurred. Remember, it takes a couple of weeks for antibodies to develop. Regular hand washing can also help in the effort to avoid spreading germs.

There's a lot of really useful information on the influenza vaccine out there on the web, but I usually go straight to the source and check out what the CDC has to say. Visit the FAQ on the 2011-2012 flu season, the 2011-2012 Flu Season Page, or the Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine resource, and you'll be really up on the latest news, straight from the CDC.

There's also a very interesting article on Medscape about survey findings (free registration may be required) on who is getting vaccinated and what motivates people to do so.

Google's Flu Vaccine Finder available through Flu.gov isn't up and running yet for this year, but visiting that link will let you scroll down the page and get some useful information by choosing your state from a pulldown menu.

The vaccine became available in my county as of a few days ago. I'm hoping we've got the new version with the smaller, less painful needle. I'm going to try to get my vaccination this weekend, and probably drag my husband along, as well.

Are you planning on getting vaccinated against the flu this year? Is the vaccine available in your area yet? Let us know in the TalkBacks below.

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