Big Bird — the fictional yellow bird that kids have been watching on Sesame Street since the 1970s — tweeted this weekend that he’d received his COVID-19 vaccine. While the tweet was intended to allay any young children’s fears about getting the photo, Republican Senator Ted Cruz took a swipe at Big Bird, calling the tweet “propaganda.”
“I got the COVID-19 vaccine today! My wing feels a little sore, but it will give my body an extra protective boost that will keep me and others healthy,” the Big Bird tweet reads.
I got the COVID-19 vaccine today! My wing feels a little sore, but it will give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy.
Mrs. @EricaRHill even said I’ve been getting vaccines since I was a little bird. I had no idea!
— Big Bird (@BigBird) Nov 6, 2021
The Texas senator retweeted it with a message: “Government propaganda…for your 5-year-old!” The spat comes less than a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine for children ages 5-11 on Nov. 2.
Campaigns to encourage people to get major vaccinations are not new. In fact, in 1956, Elvis Presley encouraged young Americans to get the polio vaccine by getting his shot in front of the press, ahead of a “The Ed Sullivan Show” performance.
Polio was one of the most feared diseases in the US until the introduction of the first polio vaccines in 1955, the CDC says. Polio was eliminated from the United States in 1979 thanks to a successful vaccination program.
Big Bird has encouraged people to get important vaccines before. In 1972, the character took part in a “Don’t wait, vaccinate” segment, encouraging people to get the measles vaccine.
Before the measles vaccination program began in 1963, an estimated 3 to 4 million people contracted measles each year in the United States, the CDC says. But since then, the widespread use of the measles vaccine has resulted in a more than 99% reduction in measles cases compared to the pre-vaccine era.
Big Bird’s recent vaccination was part of a televised town hall featuring “Sesame Street,” CNN and health experts, which “answered questions from children about the COVID vaccine and staying healthy, and dealing with big feelings while facing unprecedented challenges in their lives.” young years to continue. lives.” Several other characters were also “vaccinated.”
“Sesame Street” dolls aren’t the only high-profile figures encouraging children who are not immune to COVID-19 to get vaccinated.
First Lady Jill Biden and Dr. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy began a childhood vaccination campaign with a visit to a pediatric vaccination clinic at a Franklin Sherman Elementary School, which was also the first school in the nation to give children the polio vaccine in 1954.
Many US colleges require students to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, as the vaccine was approved for adults earlier this year. The COVID-19 vaccine is not currently required by primary schools, but is encouraged by health experts.
And several other vaccines are needed for children in entire American schools.
In Texas, where Cruz is from, a minimum of seven vaccinations are required for children to attend elementary school — public or private. Like most states, Texas requires vaccines for polio, measles, hepatitis, and several other diseases — sometimes before a child even turns 1 year.
dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner who now serves on Pfizer’s board of directors, said on Sunday that he expects “broad immunity” to COVID-19 among younger children as more children are vaccinated.
“The recording on a 5 to 11[-year-old] vaccine has been very fast and I suspect the uptake will be better than 12 to 17. There were some estimates that the uptake would be less than 12 to 17. I think it could be the opposite,” Gottlieb told “Face the Nation.” “Right now, CFS is scheduled to deliver over 1 million vaccines to children ages 5 to 11 today, so I think you’re going to see broad immunity in the child population.”
Gottlieb said he doesn’t think there will be any mandates for COVID-19 vaccines for children for a very long time. “I haven’t seen that happen for years. But I think many parents are going to vaccinate their children, and that will improve the safety situation in schools,” he said.
CBS News has contacted “Sesame Street” and Cruz with a request for comment and is awaiting a response.