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Nearly 5,000 shots given at first campus flu clinic of 2016

Second clinic to take place Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Stratton Student Center.
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MIT Medical averaged one shot every 4.4 seconds at the first flu clinic of 2016.
MIT Medical averaged one shot every 4.4 seconds at the first flu clinic of 2016.
Photo: Ann Adelsberger

MIT Medical’s first campus flu clinic of 2016, held in Walker Memorial on Oct. 5, lived up to its reputation as one of the most efficient operations at the Institute, administering 4,873 vaccines in six hours — or, for the statistically inclined, an average of one shot every 4.4326 seconds.

Attendees were suitably impressed. David Barber of MIT’s Office of Emergency Management and Business Continuity, who helped direct traffic at the clinic, reports hearing from an MIT Sloan School of Management student that “after studying logistics and business operations theory, it’s fantastic to see those concepts put into practice so effectively.”

“Can you please go work on the TSA now?” the student added.

Graduate student and first-time attendee Mariel García-Montes recalled being told during an orientation for international students that MIT had planned to give 10,000 shots in two days. “One of my Boston friends is a nurse, and when I told him that, he said, ‘What?!’ I thought maybe I just got the number totally wrong. So, congratulations to everyone for such an impressive undertaking, judged both by the developing world — I’m from Mexico — and by local standards.”

Kathy Cahill, associate dean for accessibility and usability, tweeted that the clinic was “fast and organized,” and the numbers match that observation. Even at the busiest times, the average wait was less than 10 minutes. Most attendees were able to scan their MIT IDs when they checked in, saving time and allowing flu-vaccine information to be automatically entered into their electronic medical records.

“Patients who have FollowMyHealth accounts with MIT Medical can just log on and print out documentation of their vaccination if they need it,” notes clinic organizer Phyllis Winn, an administrative coordinator at MIT Medical.

This was also the first MIT flu clinic for Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis, who started her job at MIT Medical in January. “I was so impressed with the amazing teamwork on display,” she says, “from the MedLinks volunteers, to volunteers from EHS [Environment, Health, and Safety], and, of course, the numerous staff from MIT Medical, all of whom made the day run smoothly and efficiently. I really enjoyed seeing students, faculty, and staff come over in groups to get their shots. It made it seem more like a social event than a flu clinic!”

Indeed, for many community members who return year after year, the clinic really is more like a social event. “I was terrified of shots as a kid, so I kind of can’t believe I’m saying this, but I really love this flu clinic,” says Nina Davis-Millis, director of community support and staff development for the MIT Libraries.

“It is unbelievably efficient — quite an inspiration, really. It’s always a great opportunity to run into old friends. The fact that it protects me from the flu almost feels like a plus, rather than the whole point of the enterprise.”

A second clinic is scheduled for this Thursday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the second floor of the Stratton Student Center (Building W20). It’s open to all eligible members of the MIT community, ages 10 and up. Individuals who can’t make it to a clinic can call the MIT Medical Flu Line at 617-253-4865 to schedule a vaccination appointment.

The 2016-17 flu vaccine offered at MIT is quadrivalent, protecting against two strains of influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and two strains of influenza B. Active flu strains are different each year, so individuals who got flu shots last year must still get this year’s vaccine to be protected. For more information about getting a flu vaccination from MIT Medical, and about other ways to protect yourself from influenza, visit MIT Flu Central.

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