James Van Der Beek plays an expert in battlefield forensics on the new CSI: Cyber, but admits he was far from knowledgeable about flu vaccinations. When his family faced influenza when his wife was pregnant with their third child, the actor knew it was time to separate the fact from the fiction.

Mediaplanet: Why is it so important for you to spread the word about influenza and vaccination?

James Van Der Beek: There’s nothing more heartbreaking than your child being sick. Complications from the flu send more kids to the hospital than any other vaccine preventable disease. I want people to have the tools to choose how they want to protect their family. I understand the healthy debate about vaccines, but after speaking with doctors, I decided to vaccinate.

On average, more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized for flu complications resulting in 44 million days of hospital activity.

MP: What are the biggest myths about the flu?

JVDB: One of the reasons I resisted getting a flu shot was out of fear that I’d get the flu from the shot. That’s just not true. The flu is more than a really bad cold and can lead to complications. On average, more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized for flu complications resulting in 44 million days of hospital activity. Another myth is you don’t need a yearly vaccine. If you decide to vaccinate you should do it every year to keep up with mutations. And the myth the vaccination is only a shot is not true. A nasal spray is available that actually protects against four different strains.

MP: What other healthy practices does your family follow?

JVDB: Washing hands, especially during flu season, is effective. We try to keep a strong immune system through exercise and eating as healthy as possible, staying away from processed foods and eating organic when we can. Sure, my kids eat cupcakes and pizza at parties, but we believe everything in moderation. We want to give our kids and ourselves the best shot at getting the nutrients we need from the foods we eat. My wife is really the one who showed me it is possible to eat healthy food and enjoy it.