Enter "H1N1" in Google and a neat app pops up -- a list and map of flu vaccination sites around the Twin Cities. Take Minneapolis, for example. It's handy if you're looking for a regular seasonal flu shot, but not if you want an H1N1 vaccine.
The Minnesota Department of Public Health today unveiled a flu shot clinic search engine. But it, too, won't help you if you're looking for H1N1 vaccine. A search for flu shot clinics within 30 miles of downtown St. Paul today, for example, revealed this:
There are no clinics currently scheduled within 30 miles of the 55101 zip code you used. You can look again by increasing the radius of your search (more than 30 miles) or change the zip code or extend the date range. To try that, click your Back button or the button below.
Don't bother. A search for a flu clinic within 300 miles of St. Paul yielded the same result.
Last week, the department announced plans to expand the number of people eligible for a flu shot. All people from 6 months to 24 years old are now eligible to receive the vaccine, as well as people from 25 to 64 years old with an underlying medical condition. You'll have to call your local medical clinic. It's clear that the online resources for finding H1N1 vaccine are of no use.
Update 12:59 p.m. -- Hennepin County just announced three flu shot clinics:
• Thursday, Dec. 3, 4 to 8 p.m., Eden Prairie High School, 17185 Valley View Road, Eden Prairie.
• Wednesday, Dec. 9, 3:30 to 8 p.m., Park Center High School, 7300 Brooklyn Boulevard, Brooklyn Park.
• Wednesday, Dec. 16, 3:30 to 8 p.m., Wayzata High School, 4955 Peony Lane N., Plymouth
The three clinics will offer H1N1 flu vaccine to:
• Anyone between the ages of 6 months through 24 years.
• Adults aged 25 to 64 with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, lung conditions, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy).
• All pregnant women.
• Health care providers and emergency medical services personnel.
• Anyone who lives with or provides care to infants under the age of 6 months.
The vaccine will be offered in both the nasal spray and injected shot forms.
I'm in the "25 to 64 years old with an underlying medical condition" group, but my "local medical clinc" (my regular doctor) says they are not going to get the H1N1 vaccine at all. I'm left wondering what I do now.
I'm afraid it's much the same story on our flu shot locator, Bob. That said, I do know several people who HAVE had themselves or their kids vaccinated for H1N1 by being persistant about calling their local clinics.
Yeah, the finder says that Target Clinics have seasonal vaccine, but they didn't have it this past weekend when I checked.
Of course, now that H1N1 has peaked, my daughter's pediatrician has that vaccine, but not the seasonal flu vaccine.
So, our distribution method for the flu vaccine favors those with lots of free time to surf the net and make phone calls in order to locate a clinic with vaccine in stock.
Sounds like the elderly and the unemployed will be first in line. My folks in Wisconsin are over 64 and have gotten both the seasonal and H1N1 vaccines. Meanwhile, we have not been able to get our kids vaccinated at all here.