Flu Vaccine Clinic

Update: October 27, 2018

Our final shipment of flu vaccine has arrived! Please schedule a flu vaccine appointment via the health portal. Flu vaccine appointments at Health Services are quick, easy, and usually take less than 10 minutes. Remember - the influenza virus can make you seriously ill, taking you out of class or lab for a week or more. Last year's flu season was one of the worst in recent history. Protect yourself, and your community!

Update: October 23, 2018

Dear Caltech students who have not yet received the influenza vaccine:

We have had a very strong response to the influenza vaccine program (flu shots) and currently have a limited number of doses available.  There has been a delay from the manufacturer in shipping our full allotment of vaccine; unfortunately we have no control over the timeline of shipments.  The flu shot clinic this Saturday, 10/27 (South Catalina Rec Room 9 am-12 noon; and Ricketts 1 pm-4 pm) will be held as planned and we will continue to give flu shots until we run out.  If you are not able to get the vaccine then, don’t worry! We expect another 300 doses of flu vaccine to be delivered on 10/31/2018. We will make another announcement regarding any additional flu clinic hours soon, and students are able to schedule flu vaccine appointments at Health Services for 11/1/2018 and beyond.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Student Health Services

Don’t get the flu. Get the flu shot!

Starting now, you can get a flu shot at no cost at Caltech Student Health Services. Please call (626) 395-6393 or visit http://mycaltechhealth.caltech.edu to book an appointment. If you have an appointment at Health Services for another reason, you may also ask your provider for a flu vaccine during that appointment. In addition, there will be flu vaccine clinics on campus in October 19 and October 27.

Knowing the facts about the flu can help prevent the flu illness in you or other community members:

  • The flu is a virus that can cause severe illness. Everyone is at risk, even very healthy undergraduate and graduate students.
  • The flu shot is your best protection against getting sick with influenza and spreading the illness to other students.
  • Everyone 6 months and older needs to get a flu shot every year.
  • The flu virus changes every year. This year’s vaccine was made specifically for the upcoming flu season.

Additional Resources:

Flu Vaccine Clinic Dates

Our flu vaccine clinic will return this Fall. In the meantime, make an appointment on the Student Health Portal to get your flu vaccine. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is “the flu”?

“Flu” is short for influenza. Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a specific strain of viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. They cause productive cough, runny nose, sore throat, body aches, fatigue and malaise, and fever. Severe cases can lead to death. The best way to protect against the flu is by getting an annual flu vaccination.

Why should people get vaccinated against the flu?

Influenza is a serious disease that causes respiratory problems, malaise and fatigue that can lead to hospitalization and in some cases, death. Each year, different strains of influenza virus affect the population and, therefore, the severity and type of symptoms may vary from year to year. Millions of people get the flu every year and hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta estimates that 12,000-56,000 people die from the flu each year. Influenza is highly contagious and poses a greater risk to certain people, including infants and young children, people over 65 years old, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. The flu can be spread to others even before you even feel ill.

How do flu vaccines work?

Flu vaccines are made from inactivated influenza viruses and trigger the production of antibodies in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against flu infection. Most vaccines are multivalent which means they protect against several different strains of the influenza virus.

Which influenza virus strains are targeted for the current season?

Caltech Student Health Services will be offering a quadrivalent vaccine for the 2018 flu season. A multivalent vaccine means the vaccine offers protection against different influenza virus subtypes. For more information, check the following website: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm

Who should get vaccinated this season?

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine annually. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010, when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people.

When should I get vaccinated?

The flu season occurs in the fall and winter, but the virus can stay active year around. Flu vaccination should begin soon after vaccine becomes available, and by the end of October, if possible. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination can be given throughout the flu season, even in January or later. It is never too late to get vaccinated.

Who should NOT get the flu vaccine?

  • People who have a severe allergy to eggs (see Special Considerations section below) 
  • People who have had a severe, life-threatening allergy to the flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine 
  • People who have developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine
  • People who have a moderate to severe illness or are feeling sick

Why do I need a flu vaccine every year?

A yearly flu vaccine is needed for two reasons. First, the body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, flu viruses are constantly changing. The formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and updated to target the flu viruses that are estimated to be prevalent that season. For the best protection, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually.

Does flu vaccine work right away?

No. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection.

Can I get seasonal flu even though I got a flu vaccine this year?

Yes. The flu vaccine effectiveness varies from year-to-year. (see website: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/effectiveness-studies.htm). In other words, there is a possibility you could get the flu even if you got vaccinated. The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on various factors, including the age and health status of the person being vaccinated, and also the similarity or “match” between the viruses used to make the vaccine and those circulating in the community. If the viruses in the vaccine and the influenza viruses circulating in the community are closely matched, vaccine effectiveness is higher.

What are the benefits of flu vaccination?

  • Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with flu.
  • Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization, including among children and older adults.
  • Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
  • Vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy. Getting vaccinated can also protect a baby after birth from flu, as a mother passes antibodies onto the developing baby during her pregnancy.
  • Flu vaccination may make your illness less severe if you do get sick.Getting vaccinated also protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

Can the flu vaccine give me the flu?

No, a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant influenza vaccine). The viruses in the flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. 

Some minor side effects that may occur are:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Low-grade fever
  • Body aches
However, on rare occasions, flu vaccination can cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. For more information about the flu vaccine and its side effects, visit: www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm

Where can I get vaccinated?

The locations and dates for the campus vaccine clinics vary from year to year. Please see the schedule at the top for this page for upcoming flu vaccine clinics.
All vaccinations are free. Please come - bring a friend! If you are unable to attend any of these dates, the flu vaccine will be available at Student Health Services by appointment. You can schedule a visit online at https://mycaltechhealth.caltech.edu

Special Considerations Regarding Egg Allergy

People with mild egg allergies can receive any licensed, recommended, age-appropriate influenza vaccine and no longer have to be monitored for 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine. People who have severe egg allergies should be vaccinated in a medical setting and be supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions. Please discuss your egg allergy with a medical provider before receiving the influenza vaccine.