Facebook App Fights Flu

H1N1 and seasonal influenza beware -- new heroes have arrived, ready to defend the population and fight a viral battle, via Facebook, in the form of 'Flu Fighters!'

Developed by researchers at Children's Hospital Boston, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a new Facebook application called "I'm a Flu Fighter!" gives people the opportunity to mobilize and take action against the threat of influenza – by telling their friends they got the H1N1/seasonal flu vaccine and encouraging them to do the same. Launching as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week, the app also provides information on influenza – including a flu vaccine locator – courtesy of HHS's Flu.gov.

The application is part of the HealthySocial project (HealthySocial.org), founded two years ago by Ben Reis, PhD, of the Children's Hospital Informatics Program. The project aims to empower individuals to promote positive health behaviors amongst their friends and family through the use of social networks. Reis and his team are working on a range of free social apps that allow users to collaborate with their friends to encourage better health.

"Social networks have tremendous potential to do good in the world," says Reis. "By leveraging existing social connections, people can spread positive health behaviors and attitudes amongst their friends and loved ones."