In order to encourage Americans to get vaccinated, a federal health agency had an idea: Get Santa Claus involved. The Department of Health and Human Services had planned to devote $250 million for an advertising campaign, part of which involved Santa Claus performers promoting COVID-19 vaccination, reports the Wall Street Journal.
In exchange, they would get access to the vaccine before the general public. And not just Mr. Claus, performers playing Mrs. Claus and elves would also benefit from the scheme. Michael Caputo, an HHS assistant secretary who took a 60-day medical leave last month, was the one who thought up the plan.
Rolling Stone reports:
HHS Secretary Alex Azar told the paper that the Santa “collaboration will not be happening,” to the disappointment of children and Santa Clauses across the nation. “This was our greatest hope for Christmas 2020, and now it looks like it won’t happen,” Ric Erwin, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, told the Journal.
Erwin also provided audio recordings of his calls with Caputo, who said to him, “If you and your colleagues are not essential workers, I don’t know what is.” Caputo also told Erwin, “I cannot wait to tell the president. He’s going to love this.” The plan goal was to “defeat despair” and “inspire hope” with ads online, on TV, in podcasts, and on the radio.
The original report is behind a paywall.
The Trump administration offered Santa Claus performers a deal: promote a Covid-19 vaccine, and they’d get early access to it. The plan has been called off. https://t.co/Cg7XRbUsZu
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) October 25, 2020
The Trump administration was about to blow $250 million of your tax dollars on a public health campaign starring 🎅Santa Claus 🎅.
As a reward, the Santas they hired would get early access to a vaccine. Not doctors. Not essential workers. Santas. https://t.co/ID6nO38rOc
— Swing Left (@swingleft) October 25, 2020
The Trump administration deeming Santa Claus performers essential workers and planning to give them access to a coronavirus vaccine ahead of the general public seems both insane and totally in line with how it’s dealt with this pandemic https://t.co/zQVNcVkZVt
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) October 25, 2020
Caputo proposed a $250 million campaign that would give Santa Claus performers access to the vaccine before the public. In exchange, the performers would agree to promote the vaccine to all the boys and girls who came to sit on their lap at Christmastime. https://t.co/GWF9XYfIbm
— John FitzGerald (@TheTweetOfJohn) October 25, 2020