The novel coronavirus won't keep Santa Claus from bringing gifts to children. In a family-focused town hall hosted by CNN and Sesame Street over the weekend, Dr. Anthony Fauci told kids Santa is vaccinated against COVID-19. The nation's top infectious disease specialist claimed he'd vaccinated Santa himself during a special trip to the North Pole.
In questions submitted to CNN and Sesame Street via video, more than one child expressed concern that Santa wouldn't safely be able to distribute presents this Christmas due to the ongoing pandemic. "How can Santa Claus safely give out presents with COVID-19 spreading everywhere?" 9-year-old Connor from New Jersey asked.
"Will Santa still be able to visit me in coronavirus's season?" 6-year-old Paxton from Illinois asked Fauci during a CNN-Sesame Street town hall held Saturday. "What if he can't go to anyone's house, or near his reindeer?"
Their concern is understandable. For months, children have been cautioned against traveling and visiting friends and family who live outside their own household in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. And, on the surface, the idea of someone visiting every household in the world to leave presents, eat cookies, and drink milk sounds like a superspreader event just waiting to happen.
But according to Dr. Fauci, kids don't need to worry about Santa catching or spreading COVID-19 while making his traditional Christmas rounds. "Well, I have to say, I took care of that for you, because I was worried that you'd all be upset," Fauci said. "So what I did a little while ago: I took a trip up there to the North Pole, I went there and I vaccinated Santa Claus myself."
Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, went on to explain that he'd since ensured Santa Claus is immune to COVID-19. "I measured his level of immunity, and he is good to go," Fauci said. "He can come down the chimney, he can leave the presents, he can leave, and you have nothing to worry about. Santa Claus is good to go."
While the real Santa Claus has reportedly been vaccinated against COVID-19, public health experts have warned families against participating in in-person Santa visits this year, and with good reason. Earlier this month, two holiday actors posing as Mrs. Claus and Santa potentially exposed some 50 children to COVID-19 in Ludowici, Georgia, after testing positive for the virus two days after taking photos with kids at a holiday event.
Instead, experts like Fauci have encouraged kids and their families to embrace socially-distanced holiday traditions this year, such as virtual baking parties and drive-thru holiday lights. But although this holiday season is bound to look a bit different compared to past holidays, at least children don't have to worry about Santa having to cancel Christmas.