The federal health agency has halted public service coronavirus advertising campaigns that support $250 million in taxpayer funding after proposing a special vaccine deal to Santa Claus performers, an unusually essential worker.
As part of the plan, a senior Trump administration official wanted Santa performers to promote the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccination, in return, providing earlier vaccine access than the general public. It would have also included Mrs. Claus and those who played elf roles.
The Ministry of Health and Human Services said on Friday that the Santa plan would be scrapped. The deal was the idea of HHS secretary Michael Caputo, who took 60 days medical leave last month. The rest of the campaign is currently under HHS review.
An HHS spokesperson said Santa “Collaboration won’t happen,” said HHS secretary Alex Azar, who was unaware of Caputo’s outreach discussion. Mr. Caputo did not respond to requests for comment.
Ric Erwin, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, said the news “very disappointing,” adding “this was our biggest hope for Christmas in 2020 and it’s not going to happen now.”
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