Mall Santas put up with a lot, but this year, they are demanding protection: According to the Sacramento Bee, Santa is asking to be approved to receive the early H1N1 vaccine.
You really can't blame the Santas! Imagine facing down hundreds of sniffling, sneezing, hygiene-challenged kids, all of whom want to rub their germy selves on your fuzzy red suit -- well, except for the ones who are terrified and crying, but that's a different mall Santa story.
All you have to protect yourself is a bottle of hand sanitizer, and the hope that the really sick ones will stay home. That's not much in the face of swine flu.
As Sacramento-based Santa Daniel Gromer told the Sacramento Bee, "Santa can't deliver toys if he's sick." We don't know if the CDC is listening, but having seen "The Year Without A Santa Claus" many times, we can say Amen to that!
Some Santas are taking precautions, like wearing latex gloves under their Santa costume gloves and washing their suits every day. They're having their elves "screen" the line for kids who look ill, and encouraging liberal use of hand sanitizer.
But many mall Santas are fearful that this won't be enough to prevent the spread of H1N1, and they want to be vaccinated. Unfortunately, unless Santa has a condition, like asthma, that puts him at risk for complications from the flu, he'll have to wait until after Thanksgiving to get the H1N1 shot, just like the rest of us.
Even if he can't get the early vaccine, Daniel Gromer isn't going to let Flu Fear keep him from his holiday duties. As he told the Sacramento Bee, the kids "look forward to Christmas all year, and I can't let them down."
The bottom line, though, seems to be this: "I don't want people to stay away from Santa," Gromer explained, "but they need to bring their kids in healthy." A hearty ho ho ho to that.