Santa Wants an H1N1 Vaccine for Christmas

This year, Santa is requesting an H1N1 vaccine for Christmas. Ernest Berger, president of a group called Santa America, asked an Alabama congressman last week to designate Santas a priority group for the H1N1 vaccine, like health care workers or infant caregivers. Other Santa organizations, such as the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas, are also afraid of getting swine flu, and have held seminars about how to prevent getting the disease by using hand sanitizer, washing their Santa suits more frequently, and even boosting their immune systems with extra vitamins. The president of the organization, Nicholas Trolli, hopes that parents will keep sick kids at home: “We don’t want any child to go without seeing Santa, but it’s not worth bringing your child to the mall, infecting the Santa and infecting the other children. Santas’ concern goes deeper than just the extra exposure they get by being around so many kids. Some studies show that being overweight increases the risk of getting severe H1N1 disease. Berger reports than approximately two-thirds of American Santas are overweight.
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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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