The Stanford Flu Crew, a collaborative effort between medical students from the School of Medicine and undergraduate volunteers, began offering free flu vaccinations to Stanford students, faculty, staff and employees on Wednesday. The flu vaccines will be offered until Oct. 10 as part of Power Influenza Week.
Scheduling all vaccination events in one condensed week is a different approach from past years. Last year’s flu vaccines were given out in dining halls every Wednesday over a period of two months. Rather than this weekly method, the Flu Crew decided to create one Power Influenza Week to create a sense of urgency.
“Last year what we saw was that students would push off their vaccination for the next week and eventually forget to get their flu shot,” said Rishi Mediratta, a second-year medical student currently leading the Flu Crew efforts.
Additionally, the Flu Crew has started offering vaccinations much earlier than in the past. According to the organization’s undergraduate leader Magali Sanchez ’14, the earlier the vaccines are offered the better.
“It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to starting working in your body, since the body has to first create antibodies,” she said.
Furthermore, the Flu Crew has revised the location of campus visits. The vaccines will be offered twice in Arrillaga Dining Hall and once in Florence Moore Dining Hall. In addition, vaccines will be offered at the Graduate School of Business (GSB).
“We bring flu vaccinations to [students’] doorsteps, where they eat, pray, live and work,” Mediratta said.
Last year, a total of 4,000 vaccinations were administered. The Flu Crew this year aims to increase vaccination numbers by 50 percent, hoping to administer 6,000 vaccinations to Stanford students and faculty, as well as uninsured residents in Santa Clara County.
The Stanford Flu Crew receives its medical supplies from the Stanford Occupational Health Center, Employee Health Services and the Santa Clara Public Health Department.
The Crew has evolved since Walter Newman ’74, the group’s clinical faculty advisor, founded the organization in 2001.
“It started out really small,” said Rachel Rizal, a second-year medical student and Flu Crew co-leader. “Since then it’s grown to vaccinate students and employees on campus and we’ve expanded to vaccinating in other lower-income communities — in churches, women’s shelters. Additionally in the last year, we’ve expanded to the University of California, San Francisco and the University of California, Davis.”
First-year medical students administer the vaccines as an educational experience.
“Our education model is based on knowledge acquisition and the development of clinical skills,” wrote Flu Crew Education Coordinator Kelsey Hill Evans, in an email to The Daily.
Evans explained students must complete online video modules and pass a quiz that addresses key aspects of each module before administering vaccines. In addition, students must complete two in-person training sessions.
According to Sanchez, the Flu Crew has made significant efforts to encourage the Stanford community to receive their flu shots by advertising Power Influenza week to Resident Assistants and Peer Health Educators and by using email lists. For the first time, the vaccination schedule is also available online and is advertised on Facebook.
So far, vaccinations have been offered at the Clark Center, the GSB and Arrillaga Dining Hall, and 1,300 people have been vaccinated.