Hotel Influenza

If you’re looking for a last-minute getaway, look no further. This hotel has everything you could need: plush beds, private bathrooms, television and internet, a scenic view of St. Louis Missouri, and intentional exposure to the influenza virus.

St. Louis University converted part of its Salus Center into a research facility for studying the influenza virus. Lovingly dubbed the “Hotel Influenza,” the facility is designed to safely study the efficacy of influenza vaccines by utilizing technology like double-door entrances, special ventilation systems, and a clean room for its staff and hotel-like amenities for its participants. Upon arrival, study participants are injected with either a flu vaccine or a placebo, then exposed to the flu virus. Following exposure, the staff will follow and test participants to see if they develop the flu and flu symptoms. The staff is trained to recognize all symptoms and will keep study participants at “Hotel Influenza” until they are done shedding virus (i.e. not contagious, this usually happens after about 10 days). While participants remain at the facility, they are observed and subject to blood and lung tests and nose swabs to verify if they are sick or truly recovered. So, in effect, the length of your stay is entirely up to you (or at least your immune system)!

But why is it necessary? The best measurement of a vaccine’s efficacy is by directly testing it against the flu. Studying the vaccines using this method allows researchers to see how well it protects people directly in contact with the virus. Outside of studies like the one at St. Louis University, most efficacy studies for vaccines are strictly statistical and try to compare two groups (those who got the vaccine and those who did not) but numbers alone.

In addition to the round-the-clock care, clean and quarantined accommodations, and picture window view of the St. Louis arch, participants also receive $3,500 for participating in the influenza study. So, if you need time away to be waited on and cared for, this may be the trip of your dreams… so long as you’re ready and willing to get sick.


  • (Accessed 11/19)
  • (Accessed 11/19)