Flu leaves Knox Co. Mobile Meals desperate for volunteers

Knoxville (WVLT) -- Flu season is getting worse, and health leaders say it's partly because the flu vaccine doesn't protect against most of the strains circulating right now.

Tennessee is one of 13 states which upgraded from regional to widespread flu activity this week.

Taking a closer look at the numbers.

Knox county is reporting 562 new cases this week, for a total of 921 cases since the season officially began October first.

Followed by Blount county reporting 261, and Sevier with 203.

The situation has even deteriorated since last week, and is now affecting one area organization's ability to serve the nearly one thousand people that rely on it for meals.

We're covering East Tennessee health, with how absenteeism is affecting mobile meals and the people it serves.

Mobile Meals has 63 routes, along which they deliver thousands of meals every day.

58 of those 63 routes are staffed by volunteers on a typical day, but this is turning out to be an anything but typical flu season.

Knox County Aging Services Manager Marie Alcorn says, "We had 13 routes that the volunteers didn't come to serve yesterday."

When volunteers call in sick, Mobile Meals staff can usually cover their routes.

But they're sick, too.

The flu season is getting worse, just as it typically gets better.

And CDC officials say it's partly because the flu vaccine doesn't protect against most of the flu viruses circulating right now.

The flu shot is a good match for only about 40 percent of this year's flu viruses.

Alcorn says it's a good explanation, but a poor excuse to the nearly one thousand people who rely on the organization to eat, "If you've ever had an inclination to perhaps deliver -- just one day -- just give us a call at the office and we'll put you to work."

Alcorn says two hours of your time could provide some of the most vulnerable members of our community with the only hot meal they will receive that day.

Mobile Meals is always in need of volunteers, but they are making a plea for your help during what they say is a critical situation.

To volunteer, call (865) 524-2786.

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