By National Santa Tim Connaghan
This is current as of March 3, 2020. Updates will be added as they become available.
With the current news stories regarding the Coronavirus outbreak, it brings back memories of the worries that many Santas had when we had the H1N1 flu outbreak in 2009.
At that time the media began publishing stories, which heighten the public’s fear of the H1N1 virus. People were worried. Some media reported of requests that Santas, Teachers and Nurses, those who take care of children and senior citizens, be given special priorities in receiving the Flu vaccines. Of course cooler heads prevailed and when the vaccines became available, everyone got their shots as needed.
But the H1N1 virus was still a concern and there were many in the media and elsewhere who tried to hype or promote a scare, or tried to force changes on society in order to help prevent any spread of the virus.
One Santa, in an effort to get his name out there as the top Santa in America, hosted a news conference in New York City, proclaiming that Santa had to get rid of his gloves as he could be the biggest carrier or communicator of the flu virus.
And one of the major photo companies hearing his report, followed the idea and had all of their Santas get rid of their gloves.
At the same time a group of Santas in Southern California, wanting to make sure all of their members were protected, contacted the Department of Health. Through them and the Centers for Disease Control, we learned that there was no problem with gloves and in some cases, they might help reduce the spread of germs.
We also found a great alcohol basedf, hand sanitizer, in a pump spray that could “Santa-tize,” our gloves and help reduce and transmission of germs, etc.
Yes, colds, flu and other winter illnesses do appear right around the time Santa takes his place in the mall. And just like teachers in schools, we are exposed to hundreds if not thousands of children and other family member that could be carrying an illness.
So, we do need to take some precautions.
Although it is a fact that some Santas do fall into certain categories that could be considered high risk, most Santas should not go overboard in their worries. The normal flu season has been proven to annually affect more people than we are seeing with this new coronavirus. And in comparison, the odds for the coronavirus are much lower.
As Santas, we are professionals in visiting with children and listening to their wishes and of course posing for those all-important photos.
Doctors, Medical researchers and Health Care providers are professionals in their area, and we should respect their positions and depend on them to make the call on who should have priority in receiving vaccines.
We should also follow the protocols and health guidelines that they have established for us.
By now, you have probably heard the basic guidelines for prevention, Everyone, including Santas, should consult with their doctors or health care providers to find out what they should be doing to get the best possible care not only regarding the virus, but also general protection from the regular flu, colds and even pneumonia.
Now with that said, there are some tips that can be done to increase the level of protection for both Santa and children, from the traditional threats of colds and flu that come with the holiday season:
• NUMBER ONE – Take care of yourself before the season arrives. Santa needs to do his own preventive maintenance. This means your own health care. Do your exercises, eat well, get plenty of sleep. And get your flu shots, and any other shots or treatments that you can for protections. This includes pneumonia, etc.
Some Santas have asked about the need to wear a mask. A mask is only to keep your germs from touching someone else. If you are not sick or contagious, you do not need a mask. Generally only those who are already sick or contagious need to wear masks to prevent their germs from reaching others. An exception to this might be when you visit children with cancer or other serious illness. Many of these childen have little or no immune system and therefore need to be protected from you.
• NUMBER TWO – Make sure that wherever you are working that steps have been taken to keep Santa’s work area or photo set clean and germ free. This means having hand sanitizer for all visiting guests, both children and adults.
You might event want to have dispensers with hand sanitizing cloths to wipe down all hard surfaces in the area. It is also important to have alcohol-based, sanitizer sprays for cloth or soft surfaces. This is also good for sanitizing your fur, velvet and gloves. Especially after someone coughs or sneezes on you.
Wherever children and families are visiting Santa, especially in Malls and community locations, we recommend there be hand sanitizing stations or bottles of hand sanitizer available for all to use.
• NUMBER THREE– If a child or a family member is under the weather, or has a cold or the flu, we hope the family will stay at home till they are well. In a past survey of Santas, over 44% of the Santas reported they are coughed or sneezed upon up to 15 times a day. This is not good! Should you have a person express a worry that their child needs to see Santa, I would like to suggest that you set up a SKYPE or FaceTime call with the child or children. You can also refer them to the Talk to Santa web site.
• NUMBER FOUR – Every Santa should carry a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and use it frequently. Alcohol spray sanitizer can sanitize your gloves and thus you can still wear gloves for photos.
• NUMBER FIVE – We recommend that every Santa and Mrs. Claus have lots of extra gloves and change them for each party they attend or if in a mall, frequently throughout the day. If your gloves get soiled or look dirty, it is not a good image for you.
By following these simple suggestions, and the advice of our health care professionals, we all can be healthier during the upcoming Holiday Season.
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