With more than 7,000 flu shots administered during two walk-in clinics at the Stratton Student Center this month, the MIT community is exceptionally well prepared for flu season, says Howard Heller, M.D., Medical's associate medical director and an infectious disease specialist. But if you missed the clinics on campus or at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, it's not too late, he emphasizes. "We're still giving flu shots at MIT Medical, and we have plenty of vaccine in stock."
Get a shot
Flu shots are available at no charge for MIT students, employees, affiliates, and retirees; for family members covered by one of the MIT health plans; and for family members of employees covered by the MIT Choice Health Plan who have primary care providers at MIT Medical. To schedule an appointment for a shot in Cambridge, call 617-253-4865; to schedule an appointment in Lexington, call 781-981-7080.
Minimize illness risk
Getting a flu shot can help you avoid this year's flu strains, but it can take up to two weeks to build immunity following the shot, and no vaccine is 100 percent effective, Heller notes. And influenza isn't the only game in town. "We can expect the usual wintertime colds or other viruses to show up during the upcoming months," he says. "But we can all take extra precautions to avoid getting sick or spreading illnesses." This includes washing hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering coughs and sneezes with your upper sleeve or a tissue; keeping hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth; frequently cleaning surfaces that are touched by many people; and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
If you get sick...
Symptoms of influenza may include fever, congestion, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe. If you experience flu-like symptoms, stay home from work or school, and call your primary care provider's office or MIT's 24-hour helpline at 617-253-4481. MIT Medical's walk-in Urgent Care Service, on the first floor of Building E23, is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. All benefits-eligible employees are eligible to use Urgent Care. For pediatric patients, please call ahead to find out if a pediatric clinician is available.
Want more information?
The latest flu-related information will always be available from MIT's Flu Central, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).