Free flu shots from Knox-area Rotary Clubs

Tom KingFarragut, Feature

Here is your “heads up” about a date to circle on your 2018 calendar – Saturday, Oct. 13.

That’s the date for Flu Shot Saturday at six locations around town. The event has been held each year for 27 years. For the Rotary Club of Farragut, this is always a very special day because Free Flu Shot Saturday began in 1991 when Dr. Charlie Barnett was a Farragut Rotarian. Rotarians helped then and are still helping today.

And so is Dr. Barnett.  He is still directing this public-service event citywide.

Rotarians handle the administrative duties with the consent forms and have the registration paperwork ready when the doors open. We help people park. We manage the lines at the sites. We even help with the “drive-by” shots in Farragut for people who are physically unable to get out of their vehicles and walk inside.

Farragut Rotary and five other Rotary clubs in town partner with the Knoxville News Sentinel, Summit Medical Group and the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation to vaccinate anyone wanting a flu shot. Student nurses from the University of Tennessee Medical Center help administer the shots, too.

The locations are Farragut High, Carter High, Austin-East Magnet High, South-Doyle Middle, Halls High and West High.

The doors open at 8 a.m. and close at noon or when the flu vaccine supply is exhausted.  Farragut Rotarian Mark Balik has coordinated the Farragut site for Rotary since 2006, and if everything is in place the doors will open early. Each year between 30 and 40 Farragut Rotarians volunteer for this great event. People start lining up before daybreak.

“I am most proud of our club’s attention to those who are not able to walk in to get a shot, and we provide them the opportunity to stay in their automobiles and still get a shot. That is special!” Mark said. “Also, I look around during the day and I’m amazed how everyone works with each other for the greater good of the community in which we live. It is a really beautiful thing to watch and be a part of, if only a small part.”

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta are recommending that you get vaccinated early this fall, at least by the end of October. The CDC says it’s impossible to predict what kind of flu season 2018-2019 will bring.

“The latest iteration of the vaccine has been updated, so it’s a better match for the circulating strands of flu virus we’re most likely to encounter,” the CDC reports on its website.

Donations from those getting the flu shots create the largest pool of money for the KNS’s annual fundraiser — the Empty Stocking Fund (ESF).  More than 228,000 East Tennesseans have been immunized over the years, and more than $870,000 has been raised for the ESF. Donations are accepted and appreciated from those receiving shots, but they are not required.

Here are the locations where Rotarians will be volunteering:

Farragut Rotary – Farragut High School

Knoxville Rotary – Carter High & South-Doyle Middle

North Knoxville Rotary – Halls High

Knoxville Breakfast Rotary – Austin-East Magnet High

Volunteer Rotary:  Austin-East Magnet High

Bearden Rotary – West High

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