Here's a taste of what swine-flu worriers will find online: michanoopgurl tweeting “And soo the H1N1 Virus has invaded the Bay Area, Cali.. EEEEk!”
With the H1N1 strain spreading throughout the Bay Area, many people have turned to social networking sites to pose urgent questions: Is the H1N1 vaccine really safe? Should I really be scared of the swine flu? And where do I get my shot?
Even sophisticated Internet users are worried. Wired writer Josh McHugh, known on Twitter as redw0rm, asks, “Not psyched our pediatrician won’t have H1N1 vax for 2 weeks. Is anyone in the Bay Area providing those right now?"
McHugh and company will have to do a little more research than just waiting ofr a response on Twitter.
These questions have flooded the Internet since the virus came on the scene back in April. But anxious tweeters vastly outnumber the experts with answers.
There are a few useful sources, like SwineFluNewsUSA and FluGov on Twitter. The former gathers news about swine flu, while the latter braodcasts official government information from the Flu.gov website.
More helpful than the noise of Twitter and the chatter of Facebook are blogs, mailing lists, and discussion boards, where it's possible to have more meaningful conversations.
Silicon Valley Moms, an established site for local parents, features blog posts about the safety and effectiveness of the new vaccine, asking readers to contribute their reactions and experiences. The site even has a poll about whether or not people are getting their children vaccinated. Another helpful resource: The discussion groups built into Facebook app Circle of Moms.
The harsh reality, though: Swine-flu vaccine is in short supply. And while chatting about it may help alleviate frustration, it won't speed up kids' shots.