Actor and rapper Ice-T is seen here in a press photo.Share on Pinterest
Legendary rapper Ice-T is raising awareness for the flu shot in a new campaign called “The Season.” Photography by Weber Shandwick
  • Ice-T shares why he has been getting the flu vaccine for 20 years.
  • The iconic rapper and actor teamed up with Sanofi to reach people 65 and older.
  • Despite last flu season being one of the worst the U.S. has experienced in recent years, over half of U.S. adults don’t get their flu vaccines each year.

Iconic rapper and actor Ice-T is known for his storied background and perseverance that led him to the top of the music industry as one of hip-hop’s biggest stars.

But the long-time star of NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” says he is never too tough to protect himself from the flu.

“I know what it feels like to have the flu. I know what the symptoms are when you feel it coming on and it’s not a fun experience at all,” he told Healthline. “Ever since I’ve been acting, I’ve always had to kind of be prepared because you know, you don’t get days off acting.”

Each year, about half of adults in the U.S. don’t get the recommended flu vaccines. But for 20 years, Ice-T has been regularly getting the flu shot.

He said becoming a father in his 50s motivated him to take better care of his health. Now that he’s 65, he wants to share the benefits of getting vaccinated against the flu. The rapper narrates the voice of the flu in the flu shot campaign, “The Season,” sponsored by Sanofi.

“[The] campaign was so cool. It could have been a goofy campaign that Ice-T was like ‘ahh,’ but when I saw it I thought this seems like a Netflix scary movie and my voice works with it,” he said. “It felt Ice-T-ish. It felt good.”

“I was a bad guy for so long, we were doing such hardcore music, and the next thing you know, I’m doing Cheerios commercials, so now as I’ve grown older, people are looking at me like, ‘you know what Ice is part of my life and I trust him, and it’s time for me to listen to Ice, especially at my age,” he said.

“[And] people are looking at me like, ‘Oh, you still look young, maybe I should pay attention,’” said Ice-T.

Ice-T chose to get Sanofi’s Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent flu vaccine this year because his doctor said it was right for him once he turned 65.

While anyone can get the flu, certain groups are at increased risk of flu-related complications. A 2017 study found that from 2009–2016, flu vaccines reduced the risk of flu-associated hospitalization among older adults by about 40% on average.

“Complications from the flu can also become more serious as we age. In recent seasons, 50% and 70% of all flu-related hospitalizations occurred in adults 65 and older,” Chad Worz, PharmD, executive director and chief operating officer of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, told Healthline.

As people age, they tend to experience additional health conditions that can increase their risk of being hospitalized if they get the flu. People with diabetes, asthma or certain heart conditions can be at higher risk of severe complications.

“If you have the flu on top of that, trying to combat the flu virus is an extra burden on the body, making it too weak to fight the flu,” Dr. Tochi Iroku-Malize, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told Healthline.

For instance, studies have shown that for people with diabetes and chronic lung disease, getting the flu vaccine reduced hospitalizations.

Quadrivalent means the vaccine protects against four different flu virus strains predicted to circulate during the flu season.

For people at higher risk for the flu, getting a high dose flu shot means getting four times the antigen as other flu shots.

“The idea of the flu vaccination is to get an antigen in your body, which causes your immune system to kick up and be ready when the flu attacks you in the future,” said Iroku-Malize.

“That’s why we want those 65 and older to have this so they are ready to fight the flu virus if they are exposed to it,” Iroku-Malize said.

However, like with any medication, the flu vaccine may not be right for everyone, such as people who are allergic to its ingredients, including egg products, or to a prior flu shot. Talk to your doctor about whether it’s the best option for you.

Actor and rapper Ice-T gets his flu shot.Share on Pinterest
Rapper and actor Ice-T gets his annual flu shot. Photography by Weber Shandwick

Ice-T decided to team up with Sanofi to spread the word about the flu vaccine.

The rapper said he hopes the message reaches everyone, but at 65, he has a particular interest in connecting with those in his age group, and even more so, he hopes to bring awareness to men.

“[Because] you know men we tend not to go to the doctor until we are on our death bed…so I really push male health on all levels,” he said.

He hopes to launch the charity Male Health Awareness to spread the word about early detection and to encourage men to engage in preventive health, such as annual checkups.

“I did a picture of myself getting scanned one day, and people were like, ‘Are you sick?’ And I’m like, ‘No. I’m trying not to be sick,’” said Ice-T.

Having his daughter seven years ago while he was in his 50s gave Ice-T a new perspective and drive to prioritize his well-being.

“[They] say when a man has a child in the second half of his life, it resets his life,” said Ice-T. “You start living again and I can remember when my daughter was born, the first thing that came to my mind when I saw her in the delivery room was like ‘You can’t die.’”

He immediately started focusing on making healthy changes, including losing weight, while continuing to pursue his artistic ambitions. This month, for instance, he went on tour with LL Cool J.

“I think a lot of times, as we get older, we still need something that’s more important than ourselves to activate that initiative. Humans tend not to really take care of themselves until it’s too late, so sometimes having somebody else that makes you know you have to be here is a good way of triggering it,” said Ice-T.

While he has been getting the flu shot since his 40s, doing so is now a family affair in his household. He, his wife Coco, and their 7-year-old daughter Chanel all get vaccinated, so he said being part of this campaign was a no-brainer.

“When you’re in my position, a lot of people come to you with different [ideas]. But this was easy…under certain situations the flu can be fatal, so this is something that I think is important,” Ice-T said.