The Flu Crew: Med students provide vaccinations to the community

Mediratta and Rizal
Medical students Rishi Mediratta and Rachel Rizal are members of the Flu Crew.

Medical student RISHI MEDIRATTA vividly remembers the first time he gave someone a flu shot. “It was with a third-year medical student and I was very nervous having to stick a needle in someone,” said the future physician. But luckily, thanks to the training he received as part of the school’s student-run influenza-prevention program, “My first patient didn’t even feel the needle.”

Now more than a year later, Mediratta is co-director, along with fellow second-year medical student RACHEL RIZAL, of the FLU CREW. Officially called the Medical Student Influenza Prevention Program, Flu Crew delivers no-cost vaccinations to people at Stanford and in the local community in an effort to reduce the burden of influenza and improve public health. It is the largest medical-school program of its kind in the country.

Flu Crew participation is practically a rite of passage for incoming medical students these days: A majority of first-year students are involved in the program, including 75 percent of students in 2010 and 60 percent in 2011. At the beginning of the school year, students are taught about the pathophysiology and epidemiology of the influenza virus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates is associated with anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 deaths annually in the United States. They also receive hands-on training on administering vaccines.

Read more about the Flu Crew in MICHELLE BRANDT’s article from the Stanford School of Medicine. And then check out the flu website to plan when you are getting your free flu shot this year. Just roll up your sleeve. Trust us, it won’t hurt a bit.