September 14, 2013

Sept. 14, 2013

For more information, contact:
Natalie Lester
Moxley Carmichael
(865) 599-4050


Thanks to the sponsors and volunteers of Free Flu Shot Saturday, 5,102 East Tennesseans received free flu vaccinations today, and $23,411.73 was raised for the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Empty Stocking Fund.

Each fall for the past 19 years, free influenza immunizations have been offered to East Tennesseans on Free Flu Shot Saturday, a one-day event intended to limit the impact of flu among all age groups and provide those in need the opportunity to be immunized. Free Flu Shot Saturday not only reduces the impact of influenza on the community, but it is also the biggest annual fundraiser for the News Sentinel’s Empty Stocking Fund, a charity providing 3,600 food baskets and toys to the community’s underprivileged during the holiday season.

“We are so pleased that thousands of community members received their flu shot this fall and that we’ve raised $23,411.73 for the Empty Stocking Fund,” said Nicole Taylor, events coordinator for the News Sentinel. “We thank the community for these donations that will be used to make the holidays brighter for our neighbors in need, and we thank all the volunteers and sponsors who help make an important, free health service like Free Flu Shot Saturday available to East Tennesseans.”

Free flu shots were given at the following six area schools: Austin-East Magnet High School, Carter High School, Farragut High School, Halls High School, West High School and South-Doyle Middle School. Farragut High School was the busiest location, giving out a total of 1,549 shots and raising $9,924.46 for the Empty Stocking Fund.

The primary sponsor of the News Sentinel Free Flu Shot Saturday is BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, along with donation and aid from Summit Medical Group and the Knoxville-area Rotary Clubs.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine each year, starting with the 2013-14 influenza season. Yearly flu vaccinations should begin as soon as vaccine is available and continue throughout the influenza season, into December, January and beyond. This is because the timing and duration of influenza seasons vary. While influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January and February.

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be the most common during the upcoming season. The 2013-14 flu vaccine will protect against the three to four viruses that are most likely to cause disease this year. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists’ estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body.

Since the inception of Free Flu Shot Saturday in 1994, more than 220,000 area residents have been immunized and over $830,000 has been raised for the Empty Stocking Fund.

For more information about Free Flu Shot Saturday or the Empty Stocking Fund, visit http://www.knoxnews.com/charities.