Where to Get Stuck Just in time for flu season, which starts Friday, a new Web site, www.findaflushot.com, developed by Columbia-based Maxim Health Systems, may make it easier to get needled. The site's free database, searchable by Zip code, lets users find flu shot providers at 19,000 locations nationwide.

Who, You? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises flu shots especially for: those over 50; those with chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma and heart disease; pregnant women; children ages 6 months to 2 years; and health care workers. "Only around 65 percent of elderly [among whom flu mortality rates are highest] are getting it," said Scott Harper, medical officer at the CDC's Adult Center for Infectious Diseases.

Some 30,000 U.S. deaths were caused by flu last year, said Norman Edelman, medical director of the American Lung Association (ALA). More than 225,000 people were hospitalized, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Flu shots prevent the illness in 70 percent to 90 percent of those vaccinated, said Edelman.

False Fears Popular beliefs notwithstanding, a flu shot won't make you sick. Noted Harper, "It is biologically impossible for the vaccine to cause influenza."

Go Where? Maxim's site lists only Maxim client locations, which include Giant, Rite Aid and Costco. That means the site will provide a number of Washington area options, but not all the places you can get a shot. But the ALA's shot-finder site, www.findaflushot.com/lungusa), also powered by Maxim, "is working to include all public health departments and private pharmacies," said Edelman. Prices for shots range from $10 to $20 (covered by Medicare and most health plans), according to Steve Wright, wellness director for Maxim. For more information on the flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.

-- Matt McMillen