MIT Medical sets third-straight, single-day record for flu shots

It didn’t start out looking like a record-shattering kind of day.

Aside from concerns that the rainy weather would diminish attendance, Associate Medical Director David Diamond admits to being somewhat anxious about this year’s move to a different space in the Student Center and the implementation of a new process that would require attendees to scan their MIT IDs when they checked in. “Our flu clinics had been so successful in the past,” he says. “I questioned whether the new setup would work as well.”

He needn’t have worried. The 5,154 shots administered during the six-hour walk-in clinic outstripped last year’s number by more than 750, and the scanning system worked well, allowing flu-vaccine information for most attendees 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 immunization if they need it,” notes clinic organizer Phyllis Winn, an administrative coordinator at MIT Medical. “This system also enhances our readiness for emergency events in the future, as we can now process large numbers of patients quickly, simply by scanning badges.”

David Barber of MIT's Security and Emergency Management Office, who helped direct traffic at the clinic, says he heard “lots of praise” for the efficiency of the operation, which, according to Diamond, administered one vaccine every four seconds during peak hours, with no wait longer than eight and a half minutes.

MIT Librarian Stephanie Hartman, a first-time attendee, arrived at the top of an hour with a large number of other people, and, she says, “almost bailed” when she saw the growing line. But she stayed, got her shot quickly, and describes herself as “absolutely floored by the efficiency of the whole thing.” Calling the process “a good distraction from the actual shot,” she says she will look forward to next year’s clinic, “just to watch a well-oiled machine at work.” 

Aimee Gillespie, a department liaison with MIT OpenCourseWare, had a similar reaction, tweeting, “It took longer to walk to the Student Center than to get a flu shot.”

An additional clinic is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 22 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. in the Walker Memorial Lobby (Building 50). 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 2014–15 flu vaccine offered at MIT protects against two strains of influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and two strains of influenza B. Past shots protected against only three virus strains, so this year's shot provides broader coverage. 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 other ways to protect yourself from influenza, visit MIT Flu Central.

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