Going on a trip? Stop and get a flu shot at the airport

Luggage? Check. Passport? Check. Flu shot? If you’ve yet to get yours, you can take care of the task on the way to your next flight at clinics set up in several airports around the US.

Among the nearly 20 airports that will be offering flu shots beginning within the next few weeks are Atlanta, Boston Logan, O’Hare, Denver, Honolulu, LAX, JFK, and San Francisco. Costs range from $20 to $35, which is about what you’d pay at most clinics, unless your insurance covers it. Hours vary by location, but all are open from at least 8am to 4pm on weekdays. Currently, airport locations are only offering the regular seasonal flu vaccine. The H1N1 flu vaccine may be offered at these locations when it becomes available.

I’ll confess: I have never gotten a flu shot. I try my best to avoid being poked with a needle so the thought of actually requesting it seems counter-intuitive. I know I should get it though. 200,000 people were hospitalized for the flu last year, and travelers like myself who spend a lot of time breathing recycled air in the close quarters of planes may be at an increased risk. There’s also this little thing you may have heard of, called the H1N1 “swine” flu, which the CDC expects will reach pandemic proportions. It just makes sense to get the vaccine. And now getting a flu shot won’t even require a special trip to my doctor. I’m out of excuses. I may have to muster up some courage at the airport bar first, but it looks like my next vacation will start off with a flu shot.

Check out full details on airport clinic hours and costs here.

Continental Airlines reduces flights to Mexico

In response to the swine flu outbreak in Mexico, Continental Airlines is cutting the number of fights to Mexico by 40% and reducing the size of the planes making the trips. Because the demand for Mexico travel has gone way, way, way down, the airlines is taking these cost cutting measures.

The cuts are in effect starting Monday and are expected to be only temporary. Also, for folks who already have tickets, the airline is letting people change their itineraries until the end of the month.

Depending on demand, more adjustments could be made. Hopefully, people’s places of employment will be understanding and let people adjust vacation days, otherwise insult could be added to injury. What good is the ability to change an itinerary if the rest of life doesn’t make an adjustment? [El Paso Times]

Dying to Travel

Don’t despair, paranoid traveler! You’re no longer limited to checking the CDC website to see what diseases you can catch while traveling. Now, there’s a handy, colorful, and interactive map based on the Maplecroft Avian Influenza Risk Index. The map interactively ranks countries, shows you the threat level (the Avian Influenza Risk Index, or “AIRI,” of course), and can provide hours of hypochondriac pleasure. You can find it here. What it will tell you is that you’re safest in Australia, out of 179 surveyed countries.

When you’re done with avian flu map, pull down their menu to bring up other interactive maps, including HIV/AIDS, land mine risks, TB risk, and malaria risk, among other goodies. (They also include a host of other rankings, with respect to climate, politics, and disaster risks. They’ve got an index for everything: for example, the US is listed as having an “extreme” (2.488!) “debt index” score–too bad they didn’t break out Manhattan separately.)

When you’re satiated (that is, once you feel the fever coming on, and after you’ve canceled your next vacation) click over to Euro Assistance, and sign up for your weekly World Pandemic Monitor newsletter. I’m waiting for my free copy to arrive. It sounds gripping and informative: “Hundreds of international articles and reports are being carefully scrutinized and summarized in the form of a weekly newsletter keeping pace with events such as: new countries affected, confirmed cases, actions and remedies introduced by authorities of concerned countries. This information comes with graphs and maps, in-depth articles selected for the relevance of their analyses.” So, travel with confidence! As Jeff Mills of the Financial Times joyfully, and helpfully, put it yesterday: “traversing the world need not be a death sentence.”