UT Athletics, in partnership with the UT Student Health Center and the Knox County Health Department, will be offering Vol fans a free shot of the FDA-approved Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine before Saturday’s football match-up against Pitt.
The pop-up, public vaccine clinic takes place at the Vol Village entertainment center in Humanities Plaza from 9-11 a.m. and will be free and open to those with and without tickets to the game.
The clinic is the latest in a string of public events aimed at increasing vaccination rates in the UT community, and it comes as the state of Tennessee and Knox County experience record COVID-19 numbers and reckons with a relatively low vaccination rate, particularly among youth.
Dr. Chris Klenck, the head team physician for UT athletics and a member of the SEC Medical Task Force, has been leading the league's "The SEC Backs the Vax" campaign and is in strong support of public vaccination efforts.
"Tennessee student-athletes, coaches and staff know how important it is to get vaccinated against COVID-19," Klenck said. "It is the best way for us to stay healthy, protect each other and keep competing.”
Klenck encouraged fans and community members to drop into Vol Village Saturday morning by emphasizing that vaccination helps keep families and communities safe and that it decreases hospitalization rates, which have peaked in Tennessee in the past week.
"We want to keep our Volunteer family safe as well. Every person who gets vaccinated not only protects themselves but their family, friends and community,” Klenck said. “We can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and lessen the burden on our healthcare facilities by stepping up to get vaccinated. It is a team effort. We hope you will join our team by stopping by the Vol Village before the game to get your free vaccination."
In his weekly press conference on Sept. 9, head coach Josh Heupel shared the rising vaccination rate of the team and touched on the continued COVID-19 safety measures the team is taking.
"Our COVID situation, guys are continuing to do a pretty good job inside the building and outside of it, too. Our vaccination rate continues to climb — we are above 85 percent," Heupel said. "You just want guys to be safe and take care of themselves, take care of their families and take care of the team."
Those who wish to attend the vaccine clinic, but do not have a game day parking pass, are encouraged to use public transportation or a ride share service to get to campus. More information on the university’s vaccination efforts can be found on the UT website.