BOSTON, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Boston-area colleges and universities, already hard hit by influenza, are stepping up hygiene and preventive attempts to stem the spread of flu, officials say.
Thousands of Boston-area college students are returning this week or next week to start a new semester and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Simmons College, Wellesley College and Harvard University are offering free flu vaccinations to students, while others are also providing flu clinics but charging $15 to $30, The Boston Globe reported.
However, some colleges emailed students encouraging them to get a flu shot before returning to campus; others were wiping down door handles, elevator bottoms and stair rails; while others arraigned for students in dorms to have food delivered and class assignments emailed so sick students do not spread the flu.
Boston confirmed 700 cases of influenza so far this season and four flu-related deaths -- compared with last year's 70 confirmed cases for the whole year.
MIT also has a program of student ambassadors, or "Medlinks," trained in health issues ranging from sexually transmitted diseases to influenza.
Each Medlink is equipped with a medical kit that includes medicine to help treat flu symptoms, the Globe said.