Q&A With Kristi Yamaguchi: Why Everyone Should Get A Flu Shot

by Amy McCarthy

Seasonal influenza has evolved in the last few years well beyond the common “flu.” WithKristi Yamaguchi and MomH1N1 and other potentially deadly strains going around the world, the Center for Disease Control recommends that everyone over six months of age receive a flu shot, especially the very young and the elderly.

Olympic gold medalist and Dancing With The Stars champion Kristi Yamaguchi is working with the American Lung Association to spread the word about the influenza vaccine through their Faces of Influenza campaign.

We caught up with Kristi to ask about the importance of a flu shot for kids, athletes, and everyone between, and how to convince the man in your life to go to the doctor’s office and roll up his sleeve. Why are you so passionate about spreading the word about the flu shot through Faces of Influenza?

Kristi Yamaguchi: I’ve been involved with Faces of Influenza for several years now, it’s just become part of my lifestyle. I’ve always believed in being immunized against the flu every year, especially being an athlete that competed during flu season. Now that I’m a mom, and after working with this organization, I know about so many of the complications that can arise from the flu. I want to protect my family as much as I can. Why is getting a flu shot so important for athletes young and old?

Kristi Yamaguchi:  There are a few reasons why the flu shot is important for athletes. First, your are so physically active and that can be hard on your body and lower your immune system. Second, you’re in such close proximity to many other people - coaches, fans, parents, and of course, other players if you’re in a team sport. You don’t want to get the flu in the middle of your season and risk missing out. But the flu shot is good for anyone and everyone, not just athletes. Why do you personally choose the flu shot for yourself and your family?

Kristi Yamaguchi: Over the last 20 years, the flu shot has kept me pretty healthy. I can’t even remember the last time I was sick with the flu, so I’m a definite believer. My kids, who are 5 and 7, have been receiving the flu shot since they were about 6 months old based on the recommendation of their doctor. The flu can be really dangerous for babies, and this can protect them from that. What would you say to moms who are reluctant to immunize their kid?

Kristi Yamaguchi: I’d say just talk to your pediatrician and I’m sure they can answer some of the questions and concerns that any parent might have, but most doctors recommend that young children receive a flu shot each year. What about the man in the house? How did you talk your husband into going to the doctor, especially when he wasn’t sick!

Kristi Yamaguchi: You have to get everyone involved. It’s easy for the kids because they still have their annual check-ups with the doctors. I encourage my husband by saying that the shot isn’t just for him, but for the kids too. Men are sometimes the worst patients in the house, so maybe you can encourage them by asking “You don’t want to feel awful for two weeks, do you?”

Published 09/28/11