When MIT Medical decided to take a run at their 2017 one-day flu-shot record this year, they knew it would require a special effort from virtually every member of their staff. “Ultimately, we chose to just go for it,” says MIT Medical Marketing and Communications Director David Tytell. “Aside from staffing urgent care and a few other crucial services in Building E23, we decided that all other clinical and non-clinical staff would be dispatched to Walker Memorial for an all-out effort to vaccinate as many people as possible.” Tytell, Special Projects Officer Phyl Winn, and others began serious logistical planning last spring.
On Oct. 3, that planning paid off in a big way. By day’s end, at least 9,378 people on MIT’s campus had received vaccinations — an average of one shot every 3.8 seconds — and wait times rarely exceeded 10 minutes, even at peak hours.
“I was in and out in <120 seconds,” tweeted graduate student Ellen Lalk, adding “and I hate shots, so you can bet I counted every single one of those.”
By noon, “#MITvsFLU” was one of the top-trending Twitter hashtags in Massachusetts as social media was flooded with updates from attendees, many posting photos of their sequentially numbered flu-shot stickers.
Associate Professor Noelle Eckley Selin (aka “Flu Shot #2,455”) encouraged others to get their shots by tweeting, “Want to witness how MIT ingenuity can mobilize to serve the greater good? Check out #MITvsFLU. Efficiency, optimization, tech, community ... A much-needed reminder of how we all can join together.”
Two hours later, Senior Research Support Associate Ryan Frazer posted a photo of sticker number 4,361 and wrote, “One of my favorite annual traditions: the giant and unbelievably efficient MIT flu shot clinic.”
Meanwhile, many on campus found themselves caught up in the excitement of trying to beat the previous record, following the tally on social media or checking in with friends and colleagues who’d just returned from getting their shots. “Those stickers really work,” wrote one MIT staff member. “A number of my colleagues went at different times, and we got so excited to see the number grow throughout the day. Who knew an immunization could get so many people so happy and excited?”
“It’s something really special to be part of a community that turns out in these numbers,” says Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis ’90. “We’re truly gratified to know that so many individuals care so much about keeping our campus healthy this winter.”
In case you missed the Oct. 3 clinic, a second campus flu clinic will be held Oct. 21 from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Stratton Student Center (Building W20). The clinic is open to all eligible members of the MIT community aged 10 and up. Those who can't make it to a clinic can call the MIT Medical Flu Line at 617-253-4865 from Oct. 22 through Nov. 25 to schedule a vaccination appointment, or find more information via MIT Medical online.
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