Mall Santas lobby for H1N1 vaccine


The Santa is a holiday favorite at Westfield Valley Fair Mall in San Jose.

He is not allowed to talk to the media, but plenty of other red suits are speaking out, although and they sound a bit like the Grinch when it comes to germ carrying kids.

"They're little Petri dishes that are sitting on our laps and you have to protect them as well as yourself," Santa impersonator Robert Flemming said.

At least two nationwide Santa groups are calling on Congress to give seasonal Santa's an early Christmas present -- the H1N1 flu vaccine.

With an abundance of close contact, Santa's argue they are more likely to be exposed to the /*H1N1*/ virus and pass it along. Mom Barbara Wilson agrees, Saint Nick's wish for the vaccine should be granted.

"He's Santa, there should be no question," she said.

As hard as it is to say "no" to Santa, health officials say it does not make sense to give Santa priority when school teachers and other adults who interact with kids are not moved to the front of the line either.

With the vaccine still in short supply, only five high risk groups have been singled out and that is not likely to change.

"We do hope that as the vaccine beings to flow that we'll be able to open up more broadly and certainly we would urge the Santa's to be vaccinated at that time," Santa Clara County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said.

One point everyone seems to agree on is that sick children should stay home and wait until they are healthy before sitting on Santa's lap.

"We love Santa so we want to keep our Santa healthy too," grandmother Diana Gaspar said.

In a shopping season that includes /*swine flu*/, hand sanitizer might be a favorite stocking stuffer.

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