Dean Cain, an actor best known for his role as Superman on ABC's "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman," is participating in the American Lung Association's "Faces of Influenza" campaign, urging all at-risk Americans to be immunized against the flu. This campaign includes celebrities as well as everyday Americans, putting a "face" to each high risk group.
There are more than 220 million people that should be getting a flu shot each year, but the number of people who actually are immunized is much lower. The purpose of the campaign is to put a real face on each group with the thought that, chances are, all Americans will see either themselves or someone they love in one of these faces.
Cain took time out to speak with me about this important campaign during the 2007 launch in New York City on Monday, November 12, 2007. He obviously feels very strongly about the importance of flu shots and the severity of the influenza virus.
How did you get involved with the Faces of Influenza campaign?
Dean Cain: Well, I am a face of influenza. I am in a high risk group because I have asthma. So I know if I get the flu how absolutely terrible that is for me, for working and just my general health. I got it about four years ago. It was debilitating and crushed me, and I don’t ever want to get it again. So now I get an influenza vaccination every year. And I’m also a father. I have a seven year-old boy who also has asthma. And so it is also very important to me that he gets an influenza vaccination every year so he doesn’t come down with influenza as well.
- Find out more about flu shots and who needs them.
How did having the flu affect you and your asthma?
Dean Cain: I thought I was going to die, it was in my lungs, it would not leave, and I could not get rid of it for a long time. I had to miss work; I had to change things around because I was just not fit, not healthy and I could just not get out there and do things.
- Learn about the symptoms of influenza.
Have you ever known anyone who was hospitalized with serious complications from influenza?
Dean Cain: I haven’t known anyone specific who was hospitalized with influenza, but we have taken my son to the emergency room a couple of times for something that may have been of that nature. I know that there are almost a quarter of a million people every year in America who are hospitalized from influenza, so that is a significant number. More importantly, [there] are 36,000 people a year who die [from it].
Do you have any personal hopes for what people will gain from the campaign?
Dean Cain: Well, you know, I fight this even within my own family. With my mother, in fact, just doesn’t believe in getting a [flu] vaccination. You know, people forget about polio, chickenpox, measles...the things we get vaccinated for. They forget that these diseases have basically been eradicated through vaccinations. And so it becomes a non-issue. Well, if we stop getting vaccinated, people are going to start getting those diseases again as well. As far as the flu goes, be smart about it, vaccinate yourself, vaccinate your children. It’s not some crazy conspiracy to make money. They are giving these out free in so many places. You can get free flu shots wherever you go. It saves the economy a lot of money because we won’t have so many people hospitalized from it. You don’t have to deal with so many people dying from it. It is a fantastically easy and wonderful thing to do to protect your family and yourself.
I couldn’t agree more, it’s wonderful. It’s so nice to hear that you believe that. It seems like so many people these days don’t. It seems like, like you said, that people think it is just somebody’s plot to get money.
Dean Cain: Yeah, well, they need to get out there and see who is supporting it -- which officials, which doctors. Speak to your doctor. That is another thing I say. Just go speak to your doctor.
Do you have anything else you do to try to prevent colds and flu since you do have asthma? Do you have any tips for other asthmatics? Anything specific you do to try to keep your family healthy?
Dean Cain: Sure, the basics: Get proper rest, wash your hands often, and attempt to keep your children somewhat clean. It’s impossible, I know, they are children. That is just the way it works.