Nov. 2, 2022 — When Jason Alexander performed in the musical Jerome Robbins’ Broadway In 1989 he got the flu.
Turns out, not getting the flu vaccine nearly cost him a Tony Award that year.
“I missed six performances because my flu turned into bronchitis,” says Alexander, who suffers from asthma and is best known for his role as George Costanza in His field. “I’ll never forget the producers saying, ‘I don’t care how sick you are, come back on stage.’ I spent a whole week doing a very physically demanding show with bronchitis.”
Although Alexander won the Tony, he never missed his annual flu shot again. That experience is just one of the reasons he’s joining a new flu campaign, a partnership between the American Nurses Association and flu vaccine maker Sanofi.
In the campaign, titled “Not Today, Flu,” Alexander encourages people to get vaccinated and urges their loved ones to get vaccinated against the flu too.
This is all the more urgent now that flu season is in full swing and experts are now warning of a “tridemic” this winter as COVID-19 restrictions have been eased. The CDC reports that this year’s flu season is coming strong and early. Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 22, 443 flu-related hospitalizations were reported in the agency’s surveillance network, the highest number of hospitalizations reported at this point in the season in 10 years.
“With so much talk about vaccinations over the past 2 years, I understand why people either avoid or hesitate to get vaccinated,” says Alexander. “But there are concerns in the medical community that this could be a devastating flu season if people don’t vaccinate.”
The goal of vaccination: to keep people out of the hospital and prevent respiratory complications.
It turns out Alexander knows a thing or two about life in the hospital. His mother was a nurse and he was often around sick people struggling to regain their health.
“I grew up in and around the hospital where she worked,” he says. “I worked there as a dishwasher and in the laundry room. My mother would have been very happy if I had chosen medicine, but I’m a functional idiot so I dabbled in that instead.”
Ultimately, Alexander has just one message: get your shot as soon as possible, especially with the Christmas season just around the corner.
“Because we were in a pandemic and everyone was staying away from each other, we lost some of our natural immunity to the flu,” says Alexander. “This could be the first holiday season for people to get together with loved ones since the pandemic began. Why let that derail because you have the flu!”
And rest assured: the flu shot is safe.
“There are no horror stories about the flu shot,” he says. “It’s been with you all your life, it’s been tested extensively and it definitely won’t leave keys stuck to your forehead.”
To find a flu shot near you, visit NotTodayFlu.