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Santa Claus took some time out of his busy schedule to get his booster COVID-19 vaccine, and to take a lateral flow test. And he is asking those living in Ayrshire to do the same.

Santa Claus popped along to the vaccine clinic at John Pollock Centre, Ayr to get his vaccine, and while he was there, he met up with the Test and Protect team to take a test and also pick up some test kits to take home to the North Pole.

Santa Claus said: “At Christmas time, we all want to spread a bit of joy. And the best way we can do that is by getting the vaccine and testing ourselves regularly.

“Mrs Claus got her booster vaccine some time ago, but I’ve been really busy making toys, and hadn’t managed to get mine. I know how important it is, and so took the time to book an appointment. That way I know am doing all I can to keep myself, Mrs Claus and all the elves safe – not forgetting all the children I will be delivering toys to.

“I also make sure I test myself regularly – particularly when I am going to be out and about and meeting people. I will make sure I take a test before I set off on my deliveries on Christmas Eve. And I’ll be washing my hands before every present drop-off!

“So, this Christmas, make sure you are following the Scottish Government guidance. And remember, spread joy – not COVID-19.

“And don’t forget to make sure you have enough test kits to see you through the festive season.”

Lynne McNiven, Director of Public Health, adds: “As we move into winter, it is important to remember that coronavirus hasn’t gone away. Case numbers across Ayrshire remain high, and so we all need to live safely and follow Scottish Government guidance.

“We know that more people will get together during the festive season – whether in pubs and restaurants, or household gatherings. And while we want people to enjoy

themselves, we also need them to stay safe and keep others safe by preventing viral spread.

“The vaccine is the best tool to do this. But there are other things you can do – for example, wear a face covering in public places; meet outside when you can; wash your hands regularly; take regular tests even if you don’t have symptoms; and if you do have symptoms, self isolate and take a PCR test.

“I would like to thank Santa Claus for taking time out of his busy schedule to come and meet the team. It’s great to hear he and Mrs Claus are staying safe this festive season.

“So, if you’ve not yet had your vaccine or vaccine booster, book your appointment as soon as possible. And make sure you test yourself regularly too.”

Here is how you can help us all to stay safe this festive season:

· Get the vaccine when you are offered it. For information of clinics in Ayrshire, visit NHS Ayrshire & Arran – COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments (nhsaaa.net). For booster appointments, visit the National vaccination online booking portal: https://www.nhsinform.scot/vaccinebooking or call the National vaccination helpline: 0800 030 8013.

· Wear a face covering where required including all enclosed, poorly ventilated areas.

· Wash your hands regularly, and cover your nose and mouth if coughing or sneezing.

· Meet outside if you can, and open windows when indoors.

· Keep your distance from people not in your group.

· Stay at home if you have symptoms and get a PCR test as soon as possible.

· Take Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) twice per week at home, even if you don’t have symptoms. For more information on testing, visit https://www.nhsaaa.net/coronavirus-covid-19/testing/

· If you have symptoms*, or have been identified as a close contact, you need to have a PCR test. You should book this via www.nhsinform.scot or by calling 119. You can also arrange to have a PCR test kit sent to your home.

· The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a new continuous cough; high temperature (37.8ºC or above); and / or a loss or change in sense of taste or smell. There may be other milder symptoms which can include hay fever symptoms, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, vomiting and diarrhoea. · Use the apps: COVID status (vaccine passport), Protect Scotland and Check-in Scotland.

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