If you missed your opportunity to receive the flu vaccine at the University Center last month but still want to stay healthy, mark your weekend calendar.
This year the annual Free Flu Shot Saturday is set for Nov. 11. Continuing the service founded in 1992 by Dr. Charlie Barnett, who is still organizing the event with area Rotary members, volunteers will administer free flu shots to whoever desires them until supplies run out.
“I’m expecting (the volunteers) to give 8,500 shots,” said Lou Roepke, co-chair of the Knoxville Downtown Rotary Club division of Free Flu Shot Saturday.
Shots will be offered from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at five Knoxville schools: Austin East Magnet High, Farragut High, Halls High, South Doyle Middle and West High.
The shots are administered on a first-come, first-serve basis, so it would be wise to get in line early. If this year’s turnout approaches last year’s amount of 9,000, some will leave unvaccinated.
However, this is not Knoxville Rotary Club’s fault. In its second year as chief organizers of Free Flu Shot Saturday, they have been helping Barnett raise money for months to acquire more vaccines.
Chattanooga’s BlueCross BlueShield donated $60,000, Knoxville News-Sentinel $20,000, and others combined for around $17,000. But because of the $12 cost per flu shot and other associated medical expenses, only a little more than 8,000 doses of the vaccine have been acquired.
Still, the event promises to be a success. It is especially advantageous to college students who may not have the money to afford a vaccination.
“Fortunately, it (the fu) has not been a major problem in recent years,” said Jim Boyle, student health services administrator with the Student Health Clinic. “However, potentially it can be a very major problem.”
He cited the close living proximity of the students as increasing the probability of spreading any type of contagious disease and said he “would definitely encourage students to get a flu shot.”
However, some students believe the risk of contracting the flu is minimal and point to the last few years: the flu has not been prevalent on campus.
Others are not fazed at the possibility of catching the disease.
“... People our age really don’t need them (vaccinations). People our age have a good enough immune system to not be immunized yearly,” David Cox, a junior in exercise science, said on why he was not getting a flu shot.
Free Flu Shot Saturday can be the perfect opportunity for receiving the vaccine. Other alternatives require a fee.
The Knox County Health Department gives flu shots for a $15 charge, with an additional $10 charge for out-of-county residents. Other health clinics offer the same service for a similar fee.
Beyond flu shots, the event serves another good cause. Any donations toward Free Flu Shot Saturday will be deposited into the News Sentinel Empty Stocking Fund, which feeds 3,500 East Tennessee families and supplies toys and clothing for more than 2,000 children.
Finally, participants can take comfort in knowing organizers are committed to the event and employ experienced volunteers.
“Rotary is a service organization,” Roepke said. “We are involved in outreach community projects, especially in projects that’ll make a difference.
“We’re already planning for next year.”