Members of The Links Inc. gave out information on kidney health and their upcoming event on December 4th. Photo by Vivian Shipe

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN —  The news was quietly released into the community — for the first time in 29 years, the free flu shot Saturday that many in the economically disadvantaged communities of color and elderly depend on, was no longer going to be held.

New Directions Health Care Solutions Executive Director Cynthia Thomas Finch

For the 2023 winter season in Knoxville, according to the Knox County Health Department, cost for the flu shots for those under age 64 would now come with a $15 admin fee. The cost for those getting the basic or high-dose flu shots over age 65 would now range from $35 to $75 with no insurance.

This lack of medical care, in a time when the CDC is saying the flu may be on the increase, would cause many people of color and the elderly to be at risk, especially those with no insurance.

Once again Cynthia Finch, who stood on the steps of the Jacob Building at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 and decreed that no people of color would be left behind, found a way to get not only the flu vaccine for the communities affected by the decision, but also found partners and pharmacists willing to supply everything for free, including sanitizers, wipes and gloves.

On October 18th and 19th, New Directions Health Care Solutions, of which Cynthia Thomas Finch is the Founder and Executive Director, partnered with Remote Area Medical (RAM), CONNECT Ministries, and several other organizations to meet the needs of hundreds who came back once again to the Jacob Building in East Knoxville where she made that first decree.

Many who heard about the event drove for miles from surrounding counties to get their COVID boosters and the coveted free flu shot.

After the event, New Directions also donated large amounts of sanitizing supplies to area Black churches and many daycare centers.

Once again, the people stood in the front of the line…not left behind.