Santa Claus vaccinated in Montreal

December 5, 2009

Santa Claus rolls up his sleeve at a Montreal vaccination centre.
Public health officials in Montreal brought out the man in the bright red suit Friday as officials made a renewed appeal to residents to get vaccinated against the swine flu.

Dr. Richard Lessard, Montreal’s director of public health, was joined by Santa Claus as the two were vaccinated at a centre in the city’s Saint-Henri neighbourhood.

“It’s already over?” laughed Claus after getting the shot, promising his nurse a special present for Christmas.

He encouraged children to tell their parents to get vaccinated.

“You get them to go to the store to buy you gifts, but [this] is a very good gift — getting vaccinated in order to not spread the virus around,” Claus said.

The message is a serious one, Lessard said. As of Thursday, only 37.5 per cent of people living on the island of Montreal had received their vaccine.

Lessard said he is hoping to double that number before the winter holidays.

And this weekend would be an ideal time, he said, pointing out that it takes two weeks for the vaccine to become effective, and Christmas is three weeks away.

“This is a very good time for the virus because there are a lot of people around you — lots of people meeting,” Lessard said. “But if you are vaccinated — not only are you protected but you won’t spread the virus to your friends and family.”

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