All MIT students in U.S. required to take flu shot by Oct. 30

Students without flu vaccine cannot register in Spring

All students currently in the U.S. must receive a flu shot and inform MIT by Oct. 30, including students living off campus, MIT Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis ’90 wrote in an email to students Sept. 25.

Failure to provide proof of vaccination “will prevent you from registering for second semester classes,” Stuopis wrote in an email to The Tech.

Stuopis wrote that Massachusetts has required flu shots for all college students ages 30 and under. However, the Massachusetts policy writes that college students “who are completely off-campus and engaged in remote learning only” are exempt from the flu shot requirement.

Students seeking exemptions to the flu shot can fill out an online form, although exemptions will only be granted for medical or religious reasons, Stuopis wrote to The Tech. If a medical exemption is requested, the student must provide a note from “the patient’s personal healthcare provider.” 

MIT Medical wrote in an email to off-campus students Oct. 7 that students living outside the U.S. “can wait until [they] return to the U.S. to get their shot.” However, if possible, MIT Medical still recommends they get their vaccine now where they live. 

According to the MIT Medical website, COVID Pass participants, all enrolled students, and patients with a primary care provider at MIT Medical are eligible to get their flu shots at the Johnson Athletic Center. The flu clinic runs from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. daily Sept. 30–Oct. 16. 

Patients 65 and over should go to the clinic between 8-–10 a.m., while children 10 and under should go from noon–4 p.m. Face masks are required at all times, and patients should bring their MIT ID or COVID Pass app if they have it.

COVID Pass participants are able to get their flu shots at the clinic during specific assigned times while other MIT Medical patients are able to get their flu shots at any time within the three-week window.

Students living off campus not enrolled in Covid Pass are strongly encouraged to get their flu vaccine at a “convenient” location “such as your local clinician or a retail pharmacy like CVS or Walgreens,” MIT Medical wrote in the Oct. 7 email. Afterward, students must send proof of vaccination using an online form, which could be a doctor’s note or a form from the flu shot location. Students who live close to campus may get their flu shot at the Johnson Athletic Center.

The MIT Medical Flu FAQ writes that individuals with egg allergies should not get their vaccine at MIT Medical’s walk-in clinics. “FluBlok is a flu vaccine that is produced without chicken eggs,” which MIT Medical offers “by appointment for MIT Medical patients only.” If an individual has had an allergic reaction to eggs in the past, “hives, for example,” they should speak to a primary care provider before receiving a flu shot, the FAQs state.

Public health officials are “concerned that having the flu makes someone more susceptible to complications from COVID-19,” Stuopis wrote to The Tech, adding that “it’s incredibly important to do whatever we can to avoid having a bad flu season atop the pandemic.” Vaccines “prevent or lessen the effects of influenza” and are “vital” to keeping everyone healthy, Stuopis wrote.

Stuopis wrote to The Tech that a lighter flu season because “everyone is wearing masks, physically distancing, and being extra careful to avoid getting sick… doesn’t preclude the need for flu shots. One does not replace the other. We need both improved health behaviors and vaccines to stay safe this flu season.”