Area elementary school kids can step up to the plate and get a free flu shot at Modern Woodmen Park on Tuesday to gain free entry to the Quad Cities River Bandits game.

The event will kick off the annual Genesis Flu-Free Quad Cities campaign that has provided more than 100,000 free flu vaccinations to elementary-school students across the region for the past 15 years.

This year’s goal is to reach pre-COVID-19 levels of 7,000-8,000 flu shots in 80 elementary schools across the region and to continue the past two years of mild flu seasons, a news release says.

Here’s the lineup:

  • 5 p.m. Genesis VNA nurses will be outside the ballpark gates, along with Rascal the Bandits mascot, to give free flu shots to elementary school students. Parents can complete an online consent form in advance here. There also will be a paper version of the consent at the event.
  • 5:45 p.m.: Gates to the ballpark open. Any elementary student who gets a flu shot will receive a free ticket (bleacher seat) for entry.
  • 6:30 p.m.: The game against the Peoria Chiefs begins.

Dave Heller, president and CEO of Main Street Baseball, will present Genesis a $50,000 check to benefit three causes for area kids – Genesis Flu-Free Quad Cities, the Genesis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and Camp Genesis for youngsters affected by cancer in their family.

“The pandemic has shown the world how important it is to get immunized,” said River Bandits owner Dave Heller. “All of us with the River Bandits family want to do all we can to support children’s health and keep our community safe, and that starts with a flu shot. That’s why we’re providing free tickets to that night’s game to every child who gets a flu shot. That’s a real win-win: the kids get huge fun at the ballpark and we get to keep our kids healthy and the Quad Cities strong all winter long.”

Flu-Free Quad Cities is a 100% charitably funded program. “Making a small gift to Flu-Free Quad Cities goes a long way to keep our community healthy and protect those most at risk from the deadly complications of seasonal flu,” said Missy Gowey, executive director, Genesis Foundation. “We know that for every one child who gets a flu shot, we can protect five more people. For the past two years of COVID-19, seasonal flu was nearly non-existent nationally and in the Quad Cities. Flu-Free Quad Cities contributed to this trend locally.”

A recent spike in flu cases in the Southern Hemisphere may be a warning sign that flu activity could reach pre-pandemic levels during the 2022-2023 flu season, the release says. Reports indicate that Australia is nearing the end of its worst flu season in five years.

“We still have community transmission of COVID-19 , so there’s the potential for serious complications from having seasonal influenza and COVID-19 at the same time or one after the other,” said Michele Cullen, RN, BSN, community health manager, Genesis Visiting Nurses. “Over the last two years, we experienced a huge drop in flu cases across the nation, due in part to COVID precautions like masking, handwashing and social distancing. We want to see that reduction in flu cases continue.”

The Quad Cities River Bandits and GreenState Credit Union are major sponsors of Genesis Flu-Free Quad Cities. To donate to Genesis Flu-Free Quad Cities, visit here. You also can text the key word FFQC to 41444.