Meet “Vaccinate Me Elmo.”
The little red Sesame Street character revealed on Twitter on Tuesday that he just got his COVID-19 vaccine, a week after the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized the Pfizer
shots for children under 5.
“Elmo got the COVID vaccine today, just like Elmo’s mommy and daddy!” reads a post from the Muppet’s official Twitter account. “Elmo’s daddy had a lot of questions, but Elmo’s doctor said the vaccine would help keep Elmo healthy, and all of Elmo’s friends and family too!”
The tweet included a video tweeted out by the official Sesame Street Twitter account that featured Elmo’s dad, Louie, explaining how their family pediatrician recommended the vaccine, which was recently approved for the youngest American children. (Elmo is supposed to be 3.)
“I had a lot of questions about Elmo getting the COVID vaccine. Was it safe? Was it the right decision?” Louie says in the minute-long clip. “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.”
This video was also shared on YouTube, with comments turned off.
The tweet drew plenty of comments and reactions, however, leading “Elmo” to trend on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon. Reactions were mixed. Some praised the public health announcement, while others suggested Elmo was being used as a puppet for the CDC. Sen. Ted Cruz was one vocal opponent, tweeting, “Thanks, @sesamestreet for saying parents are allowed to have questions! You then have
@elmo aggressively advocate for vaccinating children UNDER 5.”
The public service announcement comes from Sesame Workshop, the educational nonprofit behind the “Sesame Street” PBS series, and produced in partnership with the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP has given a “strong recommendation” for administering the authorized COVID-19 vaccinations to all infants, children and adolescents 6 months of age and older who do not have contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, noting that the vaccines were evaluated by “a long-standing, rigorous, and transparent process by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
“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,” Jeanette Betancourt, Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president of U.S. social impact, 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.”
Indeed, plenty of parents have had questions about COVID vaccine for kids under 5. Just one in five parents of kids under 5 said they plan to vaccinate a child right away, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey. And a little over half of parents with kids in this age group said they needed more information about the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness for young children — although with back-to-school just a few months away, health officials are urging parents to get their children vaccinated without delay.
“These are very safe vaccines, and we know that COVID can be dangerous, including in children,” Dr. Adam Ratner, a father and the director of pediatric infectious diseases at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, previously told MarketWatch. More than 30,000 children under 5 have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and nearly 500 deaths have been reported in that age group.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5, read MarketWatch’s FAQ.
And what did Elmo say about getting the shot? “There was a little pinch, but it was OK,” Elmo says in the clip.