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How Scrubs Star Sarah Chalke Fights the Flu

The doctor is in! Reid pops in to a local medical center to get her annual flu vaccine. (Photo courtesy of Eric Reed)

 

While we've loved watching Sarah Chalke play various roles throughout the years (Stella on How I Met Your Mother, anyone?), we first fell in love back in the early 2000's when she starred as the hilariously loveable Elliot on Scrubs. As she spewed out medical jargon like a pro, we wondered how much actors learn while playing doctor roles--we'd have to think twice before saying no to Dr. McDreamy, after all!

Turns out, this blonde beauty knows quite a bit about healthy habits and passing them on to her three-year-old son, Charlie. As the spokesperson for Faces of Influenza, she told us why she's so supportive of the flu vaccine (and how it's not too late to get it!) and what life is like after becoming Dr. Elliot Reid for nine years.

What do you love about this campaign?

I've had the flu shot every year for pretty much the last two decades. My whole family gets it; it's something we've grown up with. And now that I'm a mom, it's that much more important to me. Charlie is three and he gets it every single year. None of us have ever gotten the flu, either. I just think it's so important, especially for people in high risk groups and anyone caring for those people, so you can create a wall of health.

As a parent, why do you think it's so important to get the flu shot?

I think it's so common to put your kids' health first and you kind of let yours fall to the wayside because you're busy, stressed and tired. Bottom line: it has to go to the top of the list. You want to protect your kid and not bring all the stuff you're exposed to home. In my job, I'm exposed to hundreds of crew members on a show and we're all eating from the same trays. At Scrubs, they would have a day when they'd bring the vaccine and everyone would get it.

Is it ever too late to get vaccinated?

You can still get it now! The flu season doesn't even peak until February, so if someone has been too busy with work, it's still a great time to get it because it only takes one to become effective and then they're protected. Flu season can continue through March. And I think it's such a bad flu season this year - there are record numbers of people coming in. It's absolutely a great time to still get it.

You played a doctor for a long time on Scrubs. Did you learn a lot about medicine just from learning those scripts?

Absolutely. That was sort of a good and bad side effect of being on Scrubs. What you study in those episodes is some of the most rare and hard to diagnose stuff, and you can't help but let that enter your psyche. It just shows you how important health is and how much you have to take care of yourself. As a result, we take health in general seriously in our house. I believe so much in trying to prevent illness as much as I can.

Are you a winter girl or do you live for summer?

I love winter! I mean, I have a three-year-old and they pick up colds and viruses everywhere, so there's enough stuff you have to battle. But I grew up in Canada, so we would always ski and teach every weekend. I love the snow and being outside when it's freezing; getting all bundled up and then having hot chocolate.

That sounds like so much fun. Do you want to get Charlie into skiing?

He already is! He's obsessed. We went skiing this year on a trip and they have these great harnesses where you can steer them and keep them up when they're going to fall. But by the end he didn't even have the harness on!

Time for a throwback: you were our cover girl in 2009 and you said your best health habit was wearing sunscreen every day, and your worst was drinking coffee or tea at super-high temps. Is that still true? 

It's so funny that that was my worst health habit, and it still is! It was my new year's resolution last year to fix it but it didn't work out. So now I put some cold water or vanilla almond milk in there to cool it down.

And yes, wearing sunscreen is still my best health habit--we lost my aunt to melanoma, and skin cancer is so much more prevalent today. I don't leave my house without sunscreen and Charlie doesn't either. If he's swimming outside, we look ridiculous with huge sun hats, sunglasses, the works. It's insane! But hey, it's smart.

Out of all the roles you've played, do you have a favorite? 

That's such a tough question. Scrubs was my first big job a couple of months after I moved here, and I grew up on it in my 20s. I loved How I Met Your Mother. One of my recent favorites, for sure, is my role in How To Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life. I got to play the writer that the story is based on; she showed up on her parents doorstep with her five-year-old and moved back in with them. It airs April 3 on ABC, right after Modern Family. It was such a fun job and we had the best time and I worked with some of the funniest people. We literally couldn't make it through takes because people wouldn't stop laughing! It was a really, really fun group.

For more information on the flu vaccine and to find a location near you, visit Faces of Influenza's website.

More from FITNESS:

Sarah Chalke's Stay-Slim Secrets

The Doctor Is In: Dr. Travis Stork's Tips to Stay Flu-Free

Sarah Chalke's Xflowsion Workout

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