Santas taking precautions against H1N1

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by MONIKA DIAZ / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on November 19, 2009 at 12:08 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 19 at 12:50 PM

PLANO — The lines to see Santa can be longer than the lines to get the swine flu vaccine. And one North Texas mall is already taking precautions.

Collin Creek Mall set up Santa's picture booth near a hand sanitizer pump to help protect both shoppers and the man in the red suit from the swine flu.

Felix Estridge and other Santas across North Texas are taking their own precautions — getting rid of the white gloves and bringing in bottles of hand sanitizer.

"It's the hardest part to bring joy when you are spreading disease," Estridge said. "We are going to be using hand sanitizer after each and every visit."

On an average day, more than 300 kids sit on this Santa's lap during the holiday season. His only wish this Christmas is for the swine flu vaccine, but not even Santa can get it.

"We really need to get our vaccine as soon as possible to our specific group, since we will be seeing so many children," Estridge said.

Estridge's boss, B3 Entertainment told us other Santas on their roster want to be vaccinated, too.

"It's a concern for all us in the entertainment industry, but I would feel guilty taking a shot that's for a high-risk child or an elderly person," said Paul Brooks with B3 Entertainment.

But Santa America is pushing to make this group a priority, and some parents support the effort.

"They do come in contact with more kids than doctors, teachers, healthcare workers, it's crazy," said parent Lisa Riazi. "They see more kids with so many more germs."

For now, Santa wants parents to sanitize in line and keep sick kids away.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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