For one Knoxville man, flu season is a reminder of a loved one lost.
In 2014, Don Samples tragically lost his wife of 22 years, Leeann, to the flu. After her death, he sought to honor her memory by encouraging friends, family and the community to do the one thing she didn’t – get a flu shot.
“After we lost Leeann, I wanted to do something to celebrate her, and I wanted another way for our daughters to remember their mom,” said Samples. “Since her birthday was Oct. 29, which is during flu season, it just seemed like a good idea to ask people to get their flu shot in her honor. The effort has grown every year, and in 2016 I reached out to the health department to see if they would partner with us. And that’s what brought us to where we are today.”
The Knox County Health Department encourages the community to post a photo on social media after getting the flu vaccine with the hashtag #WeCanForLeeann. Now, in its sixth year, Samples says he has seen #WeCanForLeeann steadily grow.
“I get a sense of happiness because I’m now doing something that may save someone’s life. It may save another family from going through what I went through,” said Samples.
The best prevention against the flu is a flu shot. Flu vaccine can:
- Keep you from getting the flu
- Make flu less severe if you do get it
- Keep you from spreading flu to your family and other people
A flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older (with rare exception). The flu vaccine is available at all three KCHD locations. Appointments at KCHD’s Dameron Ave. and Teague clinic locations are recommended by calling 865-215-5070. Walk-in appointments are preferred at KCHD’s West Clinic.
Make plans to get a flu shot and join the #WeCanForLeeann campaign. You are not just protecting yourself, but also those around you.
Kelsey Leyrer is a communications specialist for the Knox County Health Department.