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KCHD resumes #WeCanForLeeann campaign

Effort, in memory of beloved wife, mother, created to
promote flu vaccination

KNOXVILLE – The Knox County Health Department (KCHD) has resumed its annual #WeCanForLeeann campaign, which is aimed at promoting flu vaccination. 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 vaccine.

“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 Don Samples. “Since her birthday was October 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 community is encouraged to post a photo on social media after getting the flu vaccine with the hashtag #WeCanForLeeann.

Sample posts include:
• “I got my flu shot today. It’s the best way to protect yourself and loved ones from the flu. #WeCanForLeeann”
• “I’m fighting flu with vaccination, and I hope you will too. #WeCanForLeeann”

More information, including a short film, about Don and Leeann as well as the annual campaign is available at

Early estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that more than 900,000 people were hospitalized and more than 80,000 died from flu during the 2017-2018 flu season. These new estimates are record-breaking considering the previous CDC estimates showed that between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths occurred annually since 2010. Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, and a growing body of evidence supports that vaccination also reduces the risk of serious flu outcomes that can result in hospitalization and even death.

“Last year’s flu season was devasting and tragically demonstrated how serious the flu can be,” said KCHD Director Dr. Martha Buchanan. “It was a heartbreaking reminder that all of us must do everything we can to prevent the flu; this includes getting vaccinated.”

Flu vaccinations are available in the community at medical providers and pharmacies. They are also available at all three KCHD locations; appointments at KCHD are recommended by calling 865-215-5070. Vaccination is particularly important for those with a higher risk for complications, including children younger than 5, and especially those under 2; people age 65 and older; pregnant women; and people with certain chronic conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and asthma. Symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, runny nose, tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting. Those with a high risk for complications should see their health care provider if they experience any of these symptoms. Antiviral drugs may be prescribed and can reduce the severity and duration of illness. Treatment with antivirals works best when started within 48 hours of the beginning of symptoms.

For more information on the Knox County Health Department, you may visit

Published October 8, 2018

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