We've been remiss. The swine flu's potential effect on mall Santas has thus far been given little attention in this space -- despite their exposure to society's disease spreaders, otherwise known as children. We're glad others have stepped in.
From a story in CNNMoney.com:
Greg Winters, 54, a working Santa from Branson, Mo., got his H1N1 vaccination about a month ago.
Should all working Santas get the H1N1 shot?
"Absolutely," he said.
Winters said his doctor suggested that he get the shot, even calling him a "critical case."
"He asked me how many kids I'll see this year. I said thousands, and he immediately said I was a top priority for the shot," he said.
The risk to, and from, mall Santas has been a concern in other parts of the country as well. From the Dallas Morning News: Santa uses anti-flu precautions at area malls this season
NPR gave a heads-up on the issue before Thanksgiving: Santa wants swine flu vaccine for Christmas
But the guys in the red suits can start relaxing.
Posted earlier today on Booster Shots: Swine flu continues its decline, CDC says
Also today on latimes.com is some extra reassurance for California Santas: Shortage of H1N1 flu vaccine appears to be easing in California
We're happy for the mall Santas. It's stressful enough spending the day amid harried shoppers, overstimulated kids and parents looking for just the right photo. Factor in flu fears -- and incessant holiday music -- and it's really more than one person should have to bear.
-- Tami Dennis
Photo: Santa greets patrons, and risks viral exposure, at a mall in Roswell, N.M., recently.
Credit: Associated Press