You’re a flu fighter now that you have joined the American Lung Association’s Faces of Influenza (FacesOfInfluenza.org) campaign. What inspired you to speak out about the importance of flu shots?
I’m a big believer in the flu shot. I’ve had it myself every year for the past 20 years. I come from a long line of very well vaccinated Canadians. People don’t realize the seriousness of the flu and its complications, including death.
We vaccinate my little guy, Charlie, who’s two-and-a-half now. Everyone around him—my parents, my husband, my sister and her kids—gets vaccinated. On the set, I’m exposed to a lot of germs. The best thing I can do is to protect myself against the virus so I don’t bring it home to him.
We follow the CDC’s guidelines, which recommends vaccination at age 6 months+. Charlie was a Christmas Eve baby so his first flu vaccine was when he was 7 or 8 months old.
How do you motivate Charlie to get flu shots?
Just like other kids, he doesn’t love shots. But he came with me to get mine. I said, “Mommy’s going to get a shot and it’s just gonna feel like a little pinch. It’s going to hurt for 1 second, and then it’s over. It’s going to make my body so much stronger.” So, when he got his shot, he said, “it’s gonna make my body stronger.”
“Being a mother brings the realization that you are no longer your own—you have to stay healthy for your kids.”
I tell my pediatrician and my own doctor to give us a call when the first round of vaccine is in and we’ll get it right away. But even if you’ve waited, it’s never too late to get a flu shot because it only takes 2 weeks for it to become effective in your body.
Are you proactive about vaccines in general, like Tdap, which protects against whooping cough (pertussis)?
Absolutely. I believe in following the CDC guidelines. My parents have an adoption agency in Canada and they would take in children from very remote parts of the world. We got used to having to get many vaccines at a very young age. When you look at other parts of the world, where vaccines aren’t so readily available, it really feels like quite a privilege that we have such access to them because they save lives.
What do you say to people who hesitate to get vaccinated?
Influenza is a serious disease and the vaccine is the most effective way to protect you and your family. Make vaccination a family activity: bring cookies or gummy bears, or plan a fun activity to do right after the appointment. Siblings can go together and find courage from each other. Remind them they don’t want to be home sick when all of their buddies are out playing—it’s just one really quick pinch then it’s over, and it doesn’t hurt that much.
One of the biggest changes that being a mother has brought into my life is the realization that you are no longer your own—you have to stay healthy for your kids. And it’s your responsibility to keep them healthy too.
In your new show, How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life (ABC; Spring 2013) you play a mom raising her daughter while living with her parents. Who is your character, Polly?
Polly is at the bottom of everything in her life and she still just wants to be the best parent she can be. The show is based on writer Claudia Lonow’s experiences. She showed up on her parents’ doorstep with her 5-year-old and said, “I hope it’s not a bad time for you because it is for me,” and moved in with them. Between all of them—her mother, herself and her stepdad—they made one responsible parent.
What’s one awesome thing you’re doing as a parent?
One part of being a good parent is taking care of your kid’s nutrition. So far, he’s an amazing eater and we’re making that an epic priority. I make Charlie green juices like cucumber, spinach, ginger, carrot and beet juice and he’ll drink it right down. He takes fish oil each day. He likes to scoop out an avocado with just a pinch of salt on it. I roast chickpeas in the oven in a tiny bit of olive oil and he will eat those, and kale chips, for snacks. But I’ve heard he could become a picky eater as he gets older.