2013-2014 Seasonal Influenza Information
Updated September 12, 2013
Wheelock students can call the number they typically use to schedule appointments to arrange for a flu shot or they are welcome to attend one of Harvard Vanguard’s Flu Vaccine Clinics at the Kenmore practice on either Saturday, October 19, 2013, from 10:00am - 2:00pm or October 27, 2013, from 12:00pm - 4:00pm. These are walk-in clinics and therefore students will need to register with Harvard Vanguard's Central Registration Office prior to going. To register, call 1-800-249-1767 Monday - Friday between 8:30am and 5:00pm. Please have your insurance information ready when making this call.
We have prepared the frequently asked questions below to help keep you informed. There are also helpful links to the CDC and other resources at the bottom of this page that provide information on preventing the spread of, and treating seasonal flu.
What are the medical communities' recommendations for this flu season?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the local Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) recommend that all people over the age of 6 months receive the flu vaccine this year. Annual vaccination is especially important for the following groups with age indications, close contact, or clinical conditions that place them at higher risk of severe influenza:
- Children 6 months - 5.99 years;
- Adults 50 years and older
- Pregnant women;
- Health care workers;
- Household contacts, caregivers and siblings of infants below 6 months of age;
- Patients 6 months and older with clinical criteria that places them at high-risk of complications from flu:
- Pulmonary Disease, e.g. asthma
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic renal disease
- Chronic liver disease
- Diabetes mellitus
- Immunosuppression, e.g. due to HIV infection, organ or stem cell transplantation, or inflammatory disorders treated with immunosuppression
- Morbid obesity with BMI greater than or equal to 40
- Adults with neurologic conditions, e.g. cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizure and neuromuscular disorders
- Caregivers or house hold contacts of persons with these same chronic conditions that could place them at risk for severe complications from the flu.
Are students at high risk for the flu? If not in general, are their some who are at high risk?
Students and everyone over the age of 6 months should be immunized to prevent Flu illness. Students and everyone over 6 months of age that have additional chronic conditions should be immunized to prevent the risk of severe complications that may be a consequence of Flu illness.
What types of flu are covered by this year's vaccine?
This year the shot contains the strains of viruses that are predicted to circulate during this upcoming Flu season. The strains vary slightly from those used in 2012-2013. Even if you were immunized last year, annual vaccination is necessary to boost and maintain immunity to this year's predicted strains.
Do we expect to have sufficient quantities of vaccine? If so, when will it be available?
Nationally, more flu vaccine has been produced than ever before. Harvard Vanguard has purchased an increased number of doses to cover our patients' and students' needs. Harvard Vanguard is expected to begin immunizing large populations of patients in October and will continue to do so through March.
If students want to receive a flu shot, how do they schedule appointments?
After October 1, 2013, students can call Student Health Services at 617-989-4070 to schedule an appointment to get a flu vaccine. Students should first register with Harvard Vanguard's Central Registration Office by calling 1-800-249-1767 Monday - Friday between 8:30am and 5:00pm. Please have your insurance information ready when making this call. After your insurance and demographic information is verified, you will be able to schedule your appointment.
As another option, students are welcome to attend one of Harvard Vanguard’s Flu Vaccine Clinics at the Kenmore practice on either October 19, 2013, from 10:00am - 2:00pm or October 27, 2013, from 12:00pm - 4:00pm. These are walk-in clinics and therefore students will need to register with Harvard Vanguard prior to going arrival. (information to register provided above)
How much will I have to pay to get a flu shot?
There is no out-of-pocket expense for students/patients to get immunized.
Aside from shots, what should campus communities be doing to reduce the risks related to the flu?
All members of the campus community can take an active role in flu illness prevention by covering your cough, practicing frequent hand hygiene, staying home or away from others when sick.
What if I have questions and want to talk to a healthcare professional about seasonal flu?
Please call Harvard Vanguard Student Health Services at 617-989-4070. There is a medical professional available 24/7, or you can request to speak with your PCP.
What if I am experiencing flu-like symptoms?
Students should contact their PCP if you think you may have the flu (fever and cough or fever and sore throat).
Tips for Avoiding the Flu and Colds
- Clean your hands often
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, preparing food, or eating with unwashed hands
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Avoid close contact
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Stay home when you are sick
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Cover your mouth and nose
Cover your mouth and nose and cough or sneeze into your sleeve. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
Please visit the websites below for more information about seasonal flu:
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health: "Flu-What You Can Do? Caring for People at Home
- Massachusetts Department of Public Health: http://www.mass.gov/dph/flu
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC): http://www.flu.gov/
- World Health Organization (WHO): http://www.who.int/topics/influenza/en/
- Boston Public Health Commission: http://www.bphc.org/Pages/Home.aspx