Microsoft and Google, two titans in technology, are separately trying to help combat the worst flu season in decades. First came an interactive Web site from Microsoft to help diagnose the swine flu.
Now comes a flu shot finder from Google to help find shots for the regular flu and swine flu. If only Microsoft and Google combined their efforts in battling H1N1, we'd have this problem solved.
The swine flu is causing the worst flu season in the United States since 1997, when current measurements started. So far the virus has killed an estimated 3,900 people, according to a Reuters story.
As flu shots are in high demand and the vaccines difficult to find, Google's launch of its flu shot finder, at www.google.com/flushot, is a welcome relief to anyone scrambling around town to find a flu shot.
It works off of Google Maps. Enter a ZIP code or name of a city, even your home address, and the closest sites will pop up, according to a Los Angeles Times story. Seasonal shots are in red, clinics offering H1N1 shots are in blue, and sites providing both are half red and half blue.
Just be sure to hit "Change location" next to "Find flu shots near" and then enter your ZIP code. I mistakenly started by putting my address in the search area near the top of the Web site of Google Maps, and quickly found my neighborhood but without flu clinics near it.
Google warns to call ahead to confirm availability, since flu shot supplies change regularly.
The locator will eventually be linked to flu.gov and the American Lung Association Web site, the L.A. Times reports.
If Microsoft and Google join forces on fighting H1N1, it could lead to more ways to help people during this crisis.
And once they get done with the tough work, they could create a map of holy water dispensers that some Catholic churches in Italy are using to replace holy water basins with the more sanitary electronic dispensers.
Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at www.AaronCrowe.net
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