A federal health agency reportedly just put an end to a coronavirus vaccine PSA campaign, funded by $250 million in taxpayer money, after offering a special vaccine deal to Santa Claus performers, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal on Sunday (October 25).
According to audio recordings, as part of the plan, a top official in the Trump administration wanted Santa performers to promote the benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine by offering early access to the vaccine before the general public.
“The deal was the brainchild of the official, Michael Caputo, an HHS assistant secretary, who took a 60-day medical leave last month. The rest of the campaign now is under an HHS review,” WSJ reported.
The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed Friday (October 23) the Santa plan would be scrapped.
Ric Erwin, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, called the news “;extremely disappointing,”; and said that “this was our greatest hope for Christmas 2020, and now it looks like it won”;t happen.”;
The ad effort, which was to include TV, radio, online and podcast announcements, was set to be titled “;Covid 19 Public Health and Reopening America Public Service Announcements and Advertising Campaign,” aimed to “;defeat despair, inspire hope and achieve national recovery,”; according to a work statement reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
A former White House official said some celebrities, including Dennis Quaid, declined to participate after concerns that the campaign would be seen as political.
In a 12-minute phone call in late August, Michael Caputo reportedly told Ric Erwin of the Santa group that vaccines would “likely be approved by mid-November and distributed to front-line workers before Thanksgiving.”
“;If you and your colleagues are not essential workers, I don”;t know what is…I cannot wait to tell the president. He”;s going to love this,” he reportedly said on the call.
Read more: justjared.com