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Google launches online H1N1 flu shot finder
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Google launches online H1N1 flu shot finder

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Search leader Google on Tuesday launched an online tool for tracking down where to get vaccinations against H1N1 and seasonal influenza in the United States. The flu-shot finder service went live online at google.com/flushot and will soon be available at flu.gov and websites of the American Lung Association, according to the California-based Internet giant.

Our team found that certain aggregated search queries tend to be very common during flu season each year. We compared these aggregated queries against data provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and we found that there’s a very close relationship between the frequency of these search queries and the number of people who are experiencing flu-like symptoms each week. As a result, if we tally each day’s flu-related search queries, we can estimate how many people have a flu-like illness. Based on this discovery, we have launched Google Flu Trends, where you can find up-to-date influenza-related activity estimates for each of the 50 states in the U.S. The CDC does a great job of surveying real doctors and patients to accurately track the flu, so why bother with estimates from aggregated search queries? It turns out that traditional flu surveillance systems take 1-2 weeks to collect and release surveillance data, but Google search queries can be automatically counted very quickly. By making our flu estimates available each day, Google Flu Trends may provide an early-warning system for outbreaks of influenza. – from Google



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