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Cambridge Prepares to Hold Annual Flu Shot Clinics for Residents, Harvard Affiliates

The CVS in Harvard Square is administering free flu and Covid-19 vaccines.
The CVS in Harvard Square is administering free flu and Covid-19 vaccines. By Angela Dela Cruz
By Claire H. Guo and Christine Mui, Crimson Staff Writers

UPDATED: September 17, 2021 at 2:15 p.m.

Harvard affiliates will become eligible for free seasonal flu shots at Cambridge Public Health Department clinics available to all city residents in a month.

The Health Department plans to host a total of four clinics between Oct. 15 and Oct. 23 that will offer two variations of the flu vaccine — a shot and a mist — at no cost to adults and children over 6 months old.

The clinic closest to the College is Citywide Senior Center in Central Square — one stop away from Harvard Square on the MBTA Red Line. Registration opens about two weeks before the clinic becomes operational.

Clinic walk-ins are accepted, but residents are encouraged to register online before going to a clinic to help the public health department follow Covid-19 safety procedures.

Harvard University Health Services has yet to announce a schedule for on-campus flu vaccine clinics. Still, University spokesperson Jason A. Newton urged affiliates to remain vigilant against influenza and Covid-19 in anticipation of the upcoming flu season. The season generally lasts from October to May, Newton wrote in an emailed statement.

“Both the flu and Covid-19 are respiratory illnesses and they can lead to significant complications, so we strongly encourage everyone in our community, from faculty, students, and staff, to get the flu vaccine,” Newton wrote.

He added that while all enrolled students are required to get vaccinated against the flu before Dec. 31, they are encouraged to receive it earlier in October or November. Flu vaccines are also required for HUHS employees.

Students who receive flu vaccines outside of an HUHS provider or flu clinic must submit proof through the patient portal to update their immunization records to enroll in spring classes, according to Newton.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health removed its statewide flu vaccine mandate for K-12 and college students in January due to a mild flu season and a desire to focus on administering Covid-19 vaccines.

In addition to the four clinics hosted by the Cambridge Public Health Department, CVS began offering flu shots at its pharmacy and retail walk-in health clinic, MinuteClinic, in August. The location in Harvard Square is currently accepting appointments online.

Yellow posters plastered around the store read “2021 Flu Shots Now in Stock! Get Yours Today!” directing customers to make an appointment via text message.

Flu shot posters are posted next to the pharmacy in the CVS in Harvard Square.
Flu shot posters are posted next to the pharmacy in the CVS in Harvard Square. By Angela Dela Cruz

Individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 should postpone their flu shot until after the end of the recommended isolation period, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CORRECTION: September 17, 2021

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the flu vaccine is required for all Harvard employees. In fact, the flu vaccine is required for HUHS employees, but not all Harvard employees.

—Staff writer Claire H. Guo can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @clairehguo.

—Staff writer Christine Mui can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MuiChristine.

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