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Big Bird of Sesame Street attends the 2018 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 22, 2018 in New York City. His announcement about getting the COVID-19 vaccine elicited a mixed response.
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Twitter users sounded off in the comments, with many thanking the character for doing his part to keep Sesame Street safe and set a positive example for kids. President Biden and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky were among those who offered their thanks and praise.
Others were not as appreciative.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) decried Big Bird’s tweet as «government propaganda.»
Big Bird coming over to vaccinate your kids. pic.twitter.com/LQODCO3GKg
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 7, 2021
Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe accused the Muppet of «brainwashing children,» while Newsmax host and former Trump adviser Steve Cortes slammed the announcement as «evil» propaganda.
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Both made false claims that children are not at risk of COVID-19 — while most children infected with the virus exhibit only mild symptoms, experts say vaccines can prevent many infections and hospitalizations, as well as disruptions to schooling.
Other commenters denounced Big Bird as a puppet (literally) and communist. Lavern Spicer, a congressional candidate in Florida, wrote that «Big Bird & Elmo are at least a step UP from [Dr. Anthony] Fauci, but using them to push the drug is just as reprehensible nonetheless.»
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And some went much darker, like Tennessee congressional candidate Bobby Starbuck and alt-right social media personality Mike Cernovich.
Many observers noted the irony of the pile-on, given that Big Bird is both a fictional character and one known for spreading messages of kindness and curiosity. Plus, they pointed out, this isn’t the first time he’s gotten vaccinated.
Big Bird has been helping kids vaccinate since the beginning, I'm sure everyone remembers their lessons from Sesame Street, especially the ones about Kindness and taking care of each other. pic.twitter.com/L84kTjRWbV
— Kwertzy fulla Turkey (@kwertzy) November 7, 2021
Big Bird himself said he had just learned that he had been getting vaccines since he was «a little bird.»
An account called «Muppet Wiki» backed up those claims with a series of video clips from a 1972 episode in which Big Bird gets vaccinated against measles.
Big Bird gets vaccinated, 1972 pic.twitter.com/M2mdmmjZ0N
— Muppet Wiki (@MuppetWiki) November 6, 2021
And Big Bird isn’t the only young resident of Sesame Street to get the COVID-19 jab, either. The turquoise, bilingual muppet Rosita (who is apparently 5) also got vaccinated recently.
The two appeared on CNN — with Granny Bird too — over the weekend to share their questions, experiences and tips about getting the shot.
This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.
- coronavirus vaccine
- Sen. Ted Cruz
- Sesame Street
- Big Bird