June 30, 2022
Elmo just got a COVID-19 vaccine shot—in a public service announcement from Sesame Workshop aimed at persuading human parents to get their young kids COVID shots, too, reports Variety.
The beloved red Muppet is three-and-a-half-years-old, according to Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street. That means he recently became eligible for a COVID shot—now that the vaccines have been federally approved for children five and under.
“Yeah, there was a little pinch. But it was OK!” Elmo says in the spot, which also features his dad, Louie.)
“Was it safe? Was it the right decision?” Louie says in the PSA. “I talked to our pediatrician so I could make the right choice. I learned that Elmo getting vaccinated is the best way to keep himself, our friends, neighbors, and everyone else healthy and enjoying the things they love.”
Elmo’s shot comes after other Sesame Street characters have also gotten COVID vaccines. In November, Big Bird—who is six years old — got a vaccination and was featured in a PSA. At the time, anti-vax conservatives accused Sesame Workshop of trying to “brainwash children” with the campaign.
In a tweet sent on Tuesday, June 28, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) lashed out at Sesame Workshop—complaining that the latest PSA shows “@elmo aggressively advocat[ing] for vaccinating children UNDER 5. But you cite ZERO scientific evidence for this.” Cruz had previously called the Big Bird PSA “government propaganda.”
Sesame Workshop collaborated on the Elmo PSA with the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative.
The spot encourages parents and caregivers to get informed about the COVID-19 vaccines following the announcement earlier in June of the FDA’s emergency use authorization and CDC recommendation of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for children ages 6 months and older. The PSA also was produced in partnership with the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Many parents understandably have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines for young children, and we want to encourage them to ask questions and seek out information,” Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, SVP of U.S. social impact at Sesame Workshop, said in a statement. “With help from Elmo and his dad Louie, we want to model real conversations, encourage parents’ questions, and help children know what to expect.”
Kids under five will be considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with two doses of the Moderna vaccine (a quarter of the dose for adults) four weeks apart; or three doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine (a tenth of the dose for adults), with the first two doses given three weeks apart and a third dose administered at least eight weeks after the second dose.
Sesame Workshop is directing viewers who want more information about COVID-19 vaccines to GetVaccineAnswers.org, DeTiDepende.org, and vaccines.gov.
Research contact: @Variety