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Flu shots and referrals to vaccines
March 19, 2024
  • Seasonal flu vaccines are available at the Student Health Center from October to May. Students will receive an announcement via email for on-campus flu vaccine clinic dates.
  • No prescriptions are needed to receive the following vaccines:
    • Hepatitis A
    • Hepatitis B
    • HPV
    • Meningococcal Conjugate ACWY (Meningitis)
    • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
    • Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (Tdap)
    • Varicella (Chicken Pox)
  • Prescriptions are needed for the following:
    • Japanese encephalitis vaccine
    • Malaria prophylaxis
    • Typhoid prophylaxis
  • For other vaccines not mentioned above, please call (626) 395-6393.
  • Generally, insurance plans are required to cover the cost of most vaccines but the student should check with their insurance company.

Flu (Influenza)

"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 severe illness and even death. The best way to protect against the flu is by getting an annual flu vaccination.

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 as well as some other categories. The flu can be spread to others even before you even feel ill.

Inactivated influenza 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.

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 Advisory Panel on Immunizations voted for "universal" flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people.

The flu season occurs in the fall and winter, but the virus can stay active year-round. Flu vaccination should begin soon after the vaccine becomes available in September, and before December, 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.

  • People who have a severe allergy to eggs (see the Special Considerations Regarding Egg Allergy 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

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.

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.

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

Yes. The flu vaccine effectiveness varies from year-to-year. 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.

  • 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.

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 or injury from the injection.

If you have gotten lightheaded or fainted when getting shots or blood drawn or had a reaction to needles, it is best if you get the flu vaccines while lying down. Please let the healthcare provider know if you have had a reaction to shots in the past.

Mpox (Monkeypox)

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox.

Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Despite being named "monkeypox," the source of the disease remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) might harbor the virus and infect people.

The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970. Prior to the current 2022 outbreak, monkeypox had been reported in people in several central and western African countries. Previously, almost all monkeypox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs or through imported animals. These cases occurred on multiple continents.

Monkeypox spreads in a few ways:

  • Monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact, including:
    • Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
    • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox.
    • Contact with respiratory secretions.
  • This direct contact can happen during intimate contact, including:
    • Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus of a person with monkeypox.
    • Hugging, massage, and kissing.
    • Prolonged face-to-face contact.
    • Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels, and sex toys.
  • A pregnant person can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

It's also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

A person with monkeypox can spread it to others from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

Scientists are still researching if the virus can be spread when someone has no symptoms and other aspects of transmission.

Symptoms of monkeypox can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)
  • A rash that may be located on or near the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth.
    • The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
    • The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.

You may experience all or only a few symptoms

  • Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
  • Most people with monkeypox will get a rash.
  • Some people have developed a rash before (or without) other symptoms.

Monkeypox symptoms usually start within 3 weeks of exposure to the virus. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.

Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

Take the following steps to prevent getting monkeypox:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
    • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially before eating or touching your face and after you use the bathroom.

How can a person lower their risk during sex?

Talk to your partner about any recent illness and be aware of new or unexplained rashes on your body or your partner's body, including the genitals and anus. If you or your partner have recently been sick, currently feel sick, or have a new or unexplained rash, do not have sex and see a healthcare provider.

If you or a partner has monkeypox, the best way to protect yourself and others is to avoid sex of any kind (oral, anal, vaginal) and do not kiss or touch each other's bodies while you are sick, especially any rash. Do not share things like towels, fetish gear, sex toys, and toothbrushes.

There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.

Antivirals, such as tecovirimat (TPOXX), may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill, like patients with weakened immune systems.

If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should talk to your healthcare provider, even if you don't think you had contact with someone who has monkeypox.

CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been exposed to monkeypox and people who may be more likely to get monkeypox.

People more likely to get monkeypox include:

  • People who have been identified by public health officials as a contact of someone with monkeypox
  • People who are aware that one of their sexual partners in the past 2 weeks has been diagnosed with monkeypox
  • People who had multiple sexual partners in the past 2 weeks in an area with known monkeypox
  • People whose jobs may expose them to orthopoxviruses, such as:
    • Laboratory workers who perform testing for orthopoxviruses
    • Laboratory workers who handle cultures or animals with orthopoxviruses
    • Some designated healthcare or public health workers

(Information current as of 9/2/2022)

Persons no longer need to register for a vaccine clinic and persons can self-attest they meet eligibility for vaccine. For monkeypox vaccine clinics run by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, please see the information at:

For monkeypox vaccination by the Pasadena Public Health Department, persons may sign up to be on an on-call list and will be contacted when vaccination is available:

Gay or bisexual men, or any men or transgender people who have sex with men or transgender people. 

Persons of any gender or sexual orientation who engage in commercial and/or transactional sex (e.g., sex in exchange for money, shelter, food, or other goods or needs). 

Persons living with HIV, especially persons with uncontrolled or advanced HIV disease. 

Persons who had skin-to-skin or intimate contact with someone with suspected or confirmed monkeypox, including those who have not yet been confirmed by Public Health. 

Gay or bisexual men or transgender people who: 

  1. Had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the past 14 days 
  2. Had skin-to-skin or intimate contact with persons at venues or events in the past 14 days 
  3. Had a history of early syphilis or gonorrhea in the past 12 months 
  4. Are on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) 
  5. Had anonymous sex or sex with multiple partners in the past 21 days in a commercial sex venue or other venues. 

Persons can self-attest that they meet the criteria. Go to the LACDPH site to get information about sites providing vaccine.

Please contact the Health Services of Caltech Student Wellness Services by telephone (626) 395-6393 (Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm) or through a secure message via the Health Portal at the Caltech Student Wellness Services Website (for non-urgent messages). If the Caltech Health Services is not available or your need is urgent, please go to a local urgent care facility. Please call ahead to the facility and let them know your circumstances so they can prepare for your visit and reduce the risk of spreading a possible infection. Please cover any rash areas with clothing, wear a mask, and avoid close or skin-to-skin contact with others.

Mon - Fri
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
1239 Arden Rd.
Mail Code 1-8
Pasadena, California 91125
Fax(626) 585-1522