As Christmas approaches, Santa is making a list and checking it twice. He’s also ready to deliver presents around the world after receiving his COVID-19 booster shot, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert.
“Santa already has great innate immunity," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told USA TODAY. "This year he is even more protected because he has been fully vaccinated and boosted. Santa will be just fine and is good to go!”
That means children around the world can rest assured – Santa is ready to come down the chimney, eat cookies and participate in other traditions this holiday season.
Last year, Fauci told USA TODAY that Santa wouldn’t be at risk of “spreading any infections to anybody.”
"Santa is exempt from this because Santa, of all the good qualities, has a lot of good innate immunity," Fauci said at the time.
He also reassured children watching a ‘Sesame Street’ town hall put on by CNN last year that he vaccinated Santa Claus himself, giving the jolly man an extra layer of protection while he traveled with his trusty reindeer.
“I took care of that for you because I was worried that you'd all be upset," Fauci said.
"I vaccinated Santa Claus myself," he added. "I measured his level of immunity and he is good to go."
Health experts urge eligible individuals in the U.S. over the age of 5 to get their COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Greg Poland, professor of medicine and infectious diseases and director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group, told USA TODAY he also serves as a special consultant to the North Pole. He explained to Santa Claus that the latest research shows getting your booster shot "turns out to be the best possible thing you can do to protect yourself" against COVID-19 variants, especially if you are traveling worldwide.
Poland added that the elves in the North Pole have also all received their COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots. He noted that many of the elves are elderly and at higher risk for more severe illness from COVID-19.
And Poland also checked in with Santa's reindeer as new evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, is spreading in white-tailed deer in the U.S. He said the herd is healthy and none of the magical animals have shown any symptoms.
"This is shaping up to be a very good Christmas on the North Pole," Poland said, "Santa is going to be everywhere he's supposed to be. Everything related to toy production is on schedule because the elves are healthy, and the reindeer are safe."
Last month, children ages 5 to 11 became eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The shot is not authorized for children under the age of 5.
Experts say your family should also take precautions like Santa Claus and the elves if you plan to gather this holiday season. People who are not fully vaccinated should wear masks in public, indoor settings, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should also wear masks in public, indoor settings in areas that have substantial to high transmission of the virus.
People who have a condition or take medication that weakens their immune system may also take precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, according to the CDC. Avoid hosting or attending an event if you are sick or have symptoms, in addition to taking on other protections.
Poland told USA TODAY that "Santa wants everybody to be safe. He wants everybody on the good list, not the naughty list."
"I suspect that people that have gotten their vaccine, they're probably going to see an extra candy cane on the tree," he said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fauci says Santa got a COVID booster shot, is 'good' for Christmas