Given its timing, perhaps the comparisons were inevitable: With MIT’s first campus flu clinic of 2013 coinciding with the first full day of the U.S. government shutdown on Oct. 2, MIT Medical staff and other volunteers heard numerous patients compare the Washington stalemate with MIT Medical’s speed and efficiency in dispensing flu shots.
“My favorite was: ‘You guys are so efficient, can you please run the government?’” says MIT Medical’s marketing and communication manager Dave Tytell, who spent the day directing patients to open vaccination stations as they reached the front of the line.
With approximately 4,400 people joining the line at some point during the six-hour, walk-in clinic, efficiency was a must. “We never expected to break last year’s one-day record of 3,200 shots,” marvels Debbie Friscino, director of operations at MIT Medical. “But we not only broke the record; we broke it by at least 1,200 vaccinations.”
And even though that averages out to more than 730 shots per hour, it almost never took longer than 15 minutes for people to fill out paperwork and receive their vaccinations.
David Barber of MIT’s Security and Emergency Management Office, who helped direct traffic at the clinic, reports being confronted by a woman who jovially “accused” him of “lying” about the length of the wait. “‘You told me it would take seven or eight minutes,’ she said, ‘and it took less than five!’” Barber laughs. “At that point she smiled and thanked us for providing such a wonderful service to the community.”
Members of the MIT community praised the overall organization of the flu clinic: Jane Dunphy, director of MIT’s English Language Studies called the clinic “another masterful display of organizational prowess and affability.” MIT senior Jean Xin tweeted, “The MIT flu shot line is ridiculously efficient. In and out within 5 min despite the 50+ people there.”
An additional clinic is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in 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 2013-2014 flu vaccine is a single shot that protects 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 flu-clinic eligibility and how to protect yourself from influenza, visit MIT Flu Central.