Ever since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, creators of the popular children’s show Sesame Street have been using its platform to bust myths and raise awareness about all things necessary to fight the disease. Now, the show has revealed that one of its youngest Muppets has been vaccinated.
A public service announcement (PSA) released by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organisation behind the show, informed that Elmo has received the Covid-19 vaccine. In the PSA, Elmo’s father, Louie, shared his questions about the Covid-19 vaccine for children under 5.
“Was it safe? Was it the right decision? I talked to our paediatrician so I could make the right choice,” the Muppet dad is heard saying. “I learned that Elmo getting vaccinated is the best way to keep himself, our friends, neighbours and everyone else healthy and enjoying the things they love,” he adds, talking about Elmo, who is three-and-a-half years old.
Elmo and his father are seen discussing how it felt to get vaccinated – “a little pinch” – before the elder Muppet tells viewers about his initial hesitations, and later determination.
The latest PSA comes after Covid-19 vaccines were made available for children under 5 in the US. Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice-president of US social impact at Sesame Workshop, said the video is to address all the concerns parents of little children may have.
“We hope that Louie and Elmo will inspire parents and caregivers across the country to speak with their healthcare providers and seek out information to learn about how the COVID-19 vaccines can keep young children and their families healthy,” Betancourt was quoted by CNN.
The project came into being with a joint effort of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). According to the AAP, just 29 per cent of children ages 5 to 11 and 59 per cent of adolescents ages 12 to 17 were fully vaccinated in the US at the beginning of June. However, about 18.2 million children 5-11 have not received their first vaccine dose yet.
While many on social media appreciated their efforts to raise awareness and encourage parents and pacify children to encounter their fear of vaccines, the show drew the ire of Ted Cruz. The Republican Senator took to Twitter to lash out at the toddler puppet and was miffed that it was “aggressively advocating for vaccinating children UNDER 5”. He thanked the show for acknowledging that parents might have questions but slammed them for citing “ZERO scientific evidence.”
However, this is not the first time Cruz has expressed his anger towards the puppets. Earlier in November, he was outraged that Big Bird had the audacity to share that he, too, got vaccinated and called the announcement “government propaganda” on Twitter.
As the world grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic, Unicef too partnered with Sesame Street to share tips and safety guidelines to raise awareness among children. From Elmo’s mother Mae teaching basic hygiene tips to the show creating videos like ABCDs of Covid-19 vaccines, they have been part of a creative tool to spread information to a larger audience in simple interactive terms.
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