CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and anchor Erica Hill, spoke to the characters Big Bird and Rosita on Saturday to address concerns kids might have about receiving the shot, after the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine got final approval in the U.S. last week for children ages 5 to 11.
Big Bird, whose character is supposed to be 6 years old, also tweeted that he’d been vaccinated.
“My wing is feeling a little sore, but it’ll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy,” the tweet said.
According to weekend “Fox & Friends” co-hosts Rachel Campos-Duffy and Will Cain, this amounted to “propaganda.”
“We talked a little bit here earlier about the mandates, about the authoritarianism we see creeping into our society and our culture, what’s most disturbing is what we’re seeing done to our kids,” Campos-Duffy said.
She noted that some parents were upset that their children were required to wear masks to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
“They’re also upset about what I see, and I talked about this on prime time this week, a lot of propaganda about the vaccines being not directed to the parents, not information given to parents, so they can make that decision really giving it directly to the kids in some really creepy ways including ‘Sesame Street,’” she continued.
Campos-Duffy said it looked “like a Big Pharma commercial on ‘Sesame Street’”:
Cain slammed Big Bird’s tweet, then falsely claimed that kids weren’t at risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
“The science behind the risk to kids on COVID is just so stark and clear. They’re not at risk to either transmit or get seriously sick from COVID. And yet, as you point out, so few, none really, long-term studies on the effect to children,” he said. “And yet, this type of propaganda is like, oh yeah this is definitely what we need to do.”
Though they are less likely to become seriously ill than adults, children are at risk from COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month that 66 children between the ages of 5 and 11 had died from COVID-19 in the U.S. and 8,300 had been hospitalized. One third of that number were admitted to the ICU.
Children can also transmit the virus, and infections in the 5 to 11 age group are rising, perthe CDC. Clinical trials have shown the shot to be safe and 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 for children in that age bracket.
The “Sesame Street” bit set conservatives on and off Fox News aflutter. On Saturday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) ― who is vaccinated ― and other right-wingers clutched their pearls over Big Bird’s tweet, accusing the children’s program of propaganda and brainwashing kids.
Big Bird has been teaching kids about vaccines since long before the current conservative culture war about them. In a 1972 episode, Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus spoke about getting vaccinated against the measles.