Why do so many stars have the flu right now? Don't they have better docs and meds than the rest of us?
—Alien Face, via Twitter
You speak of Jennifer Lawrence, who made the flu her personal bitch during the Golden Globes. There was also, of course, Meryl Streep, whose flu was revealed via an Amy Poehler joke; and Hugh Jackman, whose particular strain of flu has an amazing singing voice. (It also leaped into the lungs of Anne Hathaway.)
Yep, stars do get better medical treatment compared with most of the rest of us, what with on-set doctors available 24-7 and B-12 shots on demand. But does that give them an advantage over this season's epidemic? Oh, you might be surprised.
"They're actually more vulnerable to the flu than the average person," child-actor-turned internist Dr. Damon Raskin tells me. "It's a matter of being in contact with so many people."
That's right. According to doctors with a celebrity clientele, it's actually a small wonder that more actors aren't laid up with this season's infamous sickness this month—because of the sheer number of flunkies, handlers, fans, reporters and glam squads they have surrounding them during every waking moment.
Yes celebrities have had an easier time accessing flu shots, and, increasingly, producers are insisting their stars get immunized against the flu before taking a gig this year.
But several other factors trump those advantages, making the average star more likely to get the flu than you, says Dr. Max Lebow, who sees plenty of celebrities through his practice at Reliant Immediate Care near the Los Angeles International Airport.
"This year's flu vaccine isn't quite so effective as it has been in years past," he points out, calling this current batch only "moderately effective" with about a 60 percent chance of working.
Plus, Lebow adds, "the only way to really defeat the flu is if your immune system gets fired up enough to defeat it," and right now, stars' immune systems are constantly being challenged: Think jet lag, lack of sleep, dehydration, red-carpet diets, extra-long work hours, awards-season stress and other factors particular to Hollywood in mid-January.
And oh: Those B-12 energy shots that the stars love? "Worthless" when it comes to the flu, Lebow says.
Maybe it's not so bad being a civilian after all.