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It turns out, Santa really needs to get off that toy bench and get to the gym. Doctors warn that obesity is a risk factor for a severe case of the swine flu. And who is exposed to more germs than Santa? That is why the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas (yes Virginia, such a group exists, here is the site: http://www.aorbsinc.com/) and the group Santa America, are pushing for our beloved mall Santa to be given priority for receiving his H1N1 vaccine.
The Santa America folks even went as far as asking Alabama Representative Jo Bonner (R) to designate Santas as a priority group, like doctors or caregivers of young children, for the vaccine. Bonner's staff confirmed they are looking into it. After all, who wants to get on Santa's bad side?
Other than making Santa a priority for the swine flu shot, what can Santa and his guests do to prevent the transmission of the flu or any other nasty bug this year? First, if you think your child is sick, put off the mall run for another day. In addition, Santas who make visiting sick children part of their nice to-do list this year will be washing their suits daily.
Further, the jolly old elves are being strongly encouraged to take vitamins to boost their immune systems and to wash hands frequently. And, back to the exercise argument, losing a few pounds may help with asthma and other risk factors contributing to a more severe case of the flu.
The use of those charming little white gloves Santa often wears is also undergoing a change. At a Santa school in Denver, Colorado, owner Susen Mesco suggests Santa change his gloves every three hours and wash them in anti-bacterial soap. However, Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom, New Hampshire's deputy state epidemiologist, says that no gloves and anti-bacterial gel between each visit from a child is really a better option.
Dr. Jack Turco, director of health services at Dartmouth, suggests Santas merely greet children from a safe distance rather than holding them on their laps. Or further he says, "If we take this really seriously, and I think we should because people are dying, it wouldn't be inappropriate to say this is a year maybe we shouldn't do these mass gatherings."
That guy is getting a lump of coal this year for sure.