Flu Fighter: Eric Stein
Name: Eric Stein
Title: Junior Board Member at Families Fighting Flu
Meet Eric Stein, a Junior Board member of Families Fighting Fluexternal icon (FFF), a national nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting children, families, and communities against flu. Eric is a strong advocate for fighting flu because in 2004 he and his older sister, Jessica, got sick with the flu. Tragically, Jessica did not recover and died at 4 years old after the virus attacked her heart. Eric says he will always wonder what great things his older sister would have accomplished were she still alive today. Eric is currently a senior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he majors in advertising and minors in business. He combines both passions for advertising and flu advocacy to raise awareness about the importance of flu vaccination by leading social media and brand ambassador campaigns through FFF. Through FFF, Eric and his family have made it their mission to raise awareness about the importance of getting a flu vaccine every year.
- Why is fighting flu important to you, and how has it impacted you personally?
I’m at an age where many of my friends and peers are on their own for the first time in their lives and so while they can take care of themselves day to day, many are still figuring out how to stay healthy long-term without their parents or guardians’ guidance. It’s important to remind people my age to take preemptive health measures to protect themselves, like annual flu vaccination. Some college students may underestimate how big of an obstacle the flu could be during a semester. Especially with a separate pandemic occurring, it is more important than ever to get vaccinated against the flu. Additionally, I know the devastation of losing a family member to a vaccine-preventable disease. Annual flu vaccines are an important yet sometimes overlooked precaution that could be the difference in saving someone’s life.
- What would you say to others who are hesitant to get a flu vaccine?
I’ve seen first-hand how missing a yearly flu vaccine can hurt a family. Nobody enjoys getting a vaccine, but the risks [of not getting a vaccine] are much higher than people realize. Getting your flu vaccine every year is crucial for protecting both you and the people you see every day. Because we are living in unprecedented times during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people may decide that flu vaccination is less important than the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the flu is still very much a real threat. Thus, it is even more important to get your annual flu vaccine for the 2021-2022 season.
- What lead you to be involved in FFF
Ever since I could remember, I knew I wanted to volunteer to honor my older sister and follow in my parent’s footsteps when I was old enough. The older I get, the more opportunities I find to make a difference within the organization [FFF], and I am extremely honored to be able to represent FFF with an executive position on the Junior Board. It is very rewarding to be able to give back to the community through advocacy about an issue that is near and dear to me.
- How are you taking a stance to fight flu?
In addition to getting my flu vaccine very year and reminding my friends to do the same, now that I am on the Junior Board of FFF, I have been promoting the importance of getting your flu vaccine. Some of my responsibilities include being the leader of our Families Fighting Flu Brand Ambassadors program where I have been recruiting college students across the country to run campaigns on their social media accounts to raise flu awareness at their respective campuses. Additionally, I have been involved in organizing and managing silent auctions at a bi-annual “Rock out the Flu” event that raises money and awareness for flu education and vaccination. For the 2021-2022 season, I am currently in the process of setting up a philanthropy event at the University of Tennessee, where my fraternity will be fundraising for the foundation on the pedestrian walkway that many students use to walk to class.