To send H1N1 flu alerts, California taps into texting

The Sacramento BeeJanuary 12, 2010 

State health officials think they've found a way to deliver information to the youthful masses: text messaging.

With the H1N1 flu virus disproportionately striking younger people, the state Department of Public Health is looking to harness the popularity of cell phones and text messaging to make it easier for people to get vaccinated.

By tapping "No Flu" and their ZIP codes into an iPhone or any other text-capable cell phone, those looking to get vaccinated against the so-called swine flu can find out where to go for a shot.

The message needs to be sent to 30644.

"A month ago, it was difficult to find the vaccine," said Al Lundeen, a spokesman for the state agency. "Now there's plenty of vaccine."

Lundeen called it a "brilliant way" to communicate with teens, young adults and others who let their thumbs and fingers do the talking. "This is technology they rely on."

For state health officials, it's the latest twist in an ongoing campaign to get more people protected against the swine flu.

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