James Van Der Beek on his new starring role as the face of flu prevention

The actor appears in a new campaign for a needle-free flu vaccine.

James Van Der Beek likely isn’t the first person you think of when it comes to healthcare. But this fall, the “Dawson’s Creek” alum is the face for flu prevention.

In a new video campaign with FluMist Quadrivalent, a needle-free, nasal-spray flu vaccine, the father of three discusses common flu myths and the importance of routine influenza vaccination.

“Spread facts, not the flu,” Van Der Beek says in the video, in which the actor and his “daughter” have to move their camping trip indoors when the flu strikes the household.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every season, while the nasal-spray flu vaccine is recommended for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who are not pregnant. Seasonal flu activity peaks between December and February, but can begin as soon as October.

We talked with Van Der Beek about flu prevention.


This campaign is kind of random, but why was it something you wanted to get involved in?

Complications from the flu are responsible for more hospitalizations of kids than any other vaccine-preventable disease. We did not get the kids vaccinated last year and all of them got the flu. Even as healthy as I like to think I am, I had some misconceptions about the flu that I didn’t realize. One of the reasons I had resisted getting a flu shot in the past was, what if I get the flu from the flu shot? But that’s actually impossible. That’s why I teamed up with FluMist, to help educate people and separate facts from fiction.


Why do you think a video will be effective in that?

I think anytime you can put information in a way that’s somewhat entertaining, you stand a better chance to reach people. A video of me just standing at a podium lecturing I don’t think would get as many shares. We tried to make it a little fun.


What is your ultimate goal with this flu campaign?

More people understanding the facts about the flu and ultimately less people having to deal with it, for their own sake and for the sake of the community. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, when it goes wrong. I just wanted people to know a needle-free vaccine is out there, because I didn’t know about it. ‘Flu shot’ is just part of the vernacular.


How else do you and your family live a healthy lifestyle?

Eating healthy, starting at the seed level — what you’re putting in your body. When I first met my wife, food was more of just an indulgence here and there. She’s really knowledgeable about eating in a way that boosts your immune system and tastes good, too.



In the video, “Just the Flu Facts,” James Van Der Beek dispels five common flu myths. They are:

1. The flu is not a serious disease

THE FACT: The flu isn’t just a bad cold, but can lead to severe complications. According to the CDC, on average, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized for flu complications.

2. The flu vaccine is only for the elderly

THE FACT: The CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and up get vaccinated for the flu — that includes those who are young and healthy. During the 2013-2014 flu season, nearly 60% of flu-associated hospitalizations reported to the CDC were for those ages 18 to 64.

3. There is only one form of the flu vaccine

THE FACT: Influenza vaccinations are commonly known as flu shots, but a nasal spray is also available. Additionally, vaccines may help protect against four different strains of the flu (called quadrivalent vaccines) or three (trivalent vaccines).

4. The flu vaccine can give you the flu

THE FACT: According to the CDC, influenza vaccines are comprised of either inactivated viruses, weakened viruses or no viruses at all — none of which can cause of the flu.

5. You don’t need to get a flu vaccine every year

THE FACT: Once isn’t enough. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated every year because flu viruses are constantly evolving — and, as a result, flu vaccinations are constantly updating with them — and because your immune protection from the vaccination declines over time.

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