Jason Alexander Wants You to Get Your Flu Shot

Didn't know Jason Alexander was so passionate about flu protection? Big time. Plus, he answers the burning question you didn't know you had: Would George Constanza get his flu shot?

It’s not hard to place Jason Alexander: one look and you’re instantly dropping Seinfeld one-liners. Of course this TV legend’s work has gone far beyond the perennial 1990s sitcom—from a Tony Award for his work on Broadway to his recent appearance in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Off the stage and screen, Alexander has been vocal about a number of public health issues over the years, including ALS and scleroderma. Now, with a potentially intensive flu season right around the corner, he’s partnered with the American Nurses Association (ANA) for a timely cause: to encourage you to get your flu shot

As the son of a nurse, Jason Alexander has plenty of classic self-care advice (stay hydrated! Get lots of rest! Keep your temperature down!). He spoke with The Healthy @Reader’s Digest to share why he’s shining a spotlight on flu season, his flu horror stories and his go-to sick day self-care.

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“One of the few good uses of celebrities”

An online video for the ANA’s flu shot campaign stars Alexander as a guardian angel, saving passersby from everyday dangers. One inconvenience you don’t need a guardian angel to control, the spot suggests, is the flu. “I jumped at it because it’s one of the few good uses of celebrities,” Alexander said. “To stand next to things that are important and try to reflect a little attention onto it.”

He adds that he’s protected himself with the flu shot for at least 20 years, and he wants others to have that same protection ahead of this upcoming potentially severe flu season. “We’ve been distancing and masking and staying home, and our immunity to the flu has actually gone down,” he said. “And now that masks are off and we’re all coming back together—and we’re coming into the holiday season and everyone wants to be with family and friends and community—it’s a recipe for disaster.” 

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Jason Alexander’s flu horror stories

If you can remember a time or two when the flu really got you down, Alexander says he can relate with two moments that stick out in his mind: the first is when he caught the flu during Tony voting season while he was starring in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, for which he eventually won Lead Actor in a Musical.

At the time, though, he didn’t know the story would have a happy ending. As someone with mild asthma, Alexander says anything that gets into his lungs becomes more serious, so he wasn’t surprised when the flu turned into bronchitis. “I missed a week of shows during Tonys season,” he says. “I actually performed for … [almost] two weeks with bronchitis. I can’t tell you, it was holding your breath and trying to walk along the bottom of the swimming pool while you’re entertaining people. It was a horrible experience.” 

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The second time was years later while playing the lead in a film, when he took several medications to power through. “I was like a zombie walking through that film,” he said. “I think one of the reasons you may not have heard of it is I was terrible. Because I was practically comatose from these medications. So I know firsthand that the flu can be a really minor inconvenience with these vaccines. But if you don’t do it, there are just these crazy potential ramifications.” 

Whether you catch the flu or instead just experience some mild side effects from the vaccine, learn from Alexander’s mistakes: stay home and take it easy. His top tip? “Netflix is your new best friend. There are some terrible movies. You can go see the movie that I was very bad in, it’s probably sitting there.” 

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Would George Constanza get the flu shot?

Jason Alexander might not crumble in pain in the way his Seinfeld character did—“I have a wonderful wife who looks over me like a guardian angel, and nothing bad ever happens to me because she’s in my life”—but they do have one thing in common. Alexander says for all his faults, he’s pretty sure George Constanza would get the flu shot.

“George was a bit of a hypochondriac,” he says. “So I would imagine he would be very happy to keep a potential disease away from him. I also know that in many cases, for many people, the flu vaccine is free. Well, that’s the magic word for George. Free, something for nothing? He’d be on line the minute the store opens.”

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Miranda Manier
Miranda is the Associate Editor for TheHealthy.com and The Healthy section of Reader's Digest magazine. Previously, Miranda was a producer at WNIT, the PBS affiliate in South Bend, Indiana; and the producer in residence for Minneapolis TV news KARE 11, where she won an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award for producing gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial. Miranda also interned at Chicago’s PBS station, WTTW, and worked as the managing editor at the Columbia Chronicle at Columbia College. Outside of work, Miranda enjoys acting, board games, and trying her hand at a good vegan dessert recipe. She also loves talking about TV—so tell her what you’re watching!