UNC is beating North Carolina State University — not in football or basketball, but in flu vaccinations. Both schools are competing to vaccinate the most people by Dec. 7 in a nationwide competition run by Alana’s Foundation.
Alana’s Foundation was founded in 2009 with the mission of increasing influenza vaccination rates by educating the public and increasing the affordability of annual flu shots.
Alana’s Foundation targets college students with its vaccination competition because they believe instilling college students — "the caretakers of tomorrow" — with annual vaccinations as an important and impactful habit.
The foundation also works to financially support families who have lost a child.
The foundation was founded in honor of Alana Yaksich, who passed away at the age of five after contracting the flu.
The day Alana fell ill, she displayed no signs of illness until she woke up after a nap with a fever of 106. Her father rushed her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with the flu. Alana later passed away in the hospital.
“She did not look like she was ill," said JoAnna Yaksich, Alana’s aunt and founding board member of the foundation. "It was very hard to wrap your head around as you stood in a world-class medical facility, hearing that she’s not going to make it, and it was because of influenza. The hardest part was that it is a vaccine-preventable disease, which is why we do what we do. We felt the need to go out and educate the community about influenza as we needed to be educated.”
As of Friday, UNC led the mid-sized school division, almost tripling N.C. State’s count with 1,547 vaccinations logged. The national winner will receive a trophy from Alana’s Foundation. The health center staff of the losing school, between UNC and N.C. State, will have to don the other school’s colors for a day.
To participate, all you have to do is get vaccinated and fill out a form.