Sesame Street’s Big Bird is making headlines today after tweeting he had received the COVID vaccine.
The fictional children’s character is supposed to be 6 years old, which if he were real, means he became eligible for the COVID vaccine last week when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for emergency use in children ages 5 through 11.
Big Bird’s endorsement of the COVID vaccine for children isn’t an isolated incident — it’s just the latest example of Sesame Street endorsing federal health agencies’ COVID messaging for young children, with the help of corporate media.
But the announcement was met with backlash from elected officials and media pundits who accused the character of spreading government propaganda.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted:
Government propaganda…for your 5 year old! https://t.co/lKUlomnpq1
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 6, 2021
Lisa Boothe of Fox News tweeted:
Brainwashing children who are not at risk from COVID. Twisted. https://t.co/KPjdHJjpUy
— Lisa Boothe (@LisaMarieBoothe) November 6, 2021
On Nov. 6, Sesame Street and CNN collaborated on a special the news outlet described as, “Familiar faces from Sesame Street and experts from CNN and across the country will be ready to answer children’s questions about the Covid-19 vaccine and staying healthy, and coping with big feelings as they continue to face unprecedented challenges in their young lives.”
The program featured Sesame Street muppet Rosita, who after getting her first COVID shot, told CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Sesame Street viewers, “My mommy and my Papi said that it will help keep me, my friends, my neighbors, my Abuela all healthy.”
Commenting on the use of popular children’s characters to promote vaccines, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chairman of Children’s Health Defense, today said:
“The use of trusted and beloved figures in this propaganda assault to induce children into submitting as guinea pigs to injections with an experimental high-risk zero-liability medical product with no proven benefits for kids is unconscionable and revolting.
”Big Pharma has turned Big Bird into a child predator.”
The Nov. 6 program is the most recent example of the CNN and Sesame street collaboration that began early on in the pandemic.
In October 2020, Sesame Street collaborated with CNN to create pandemic-centered content for children by producing a 10-part series, “The ABCs of COVID.” The series featured Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and other Sesame Street characters.
In several episodes of the series, Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore health commissioner, is a guest who fields COVID-related questions from fictional Sesame Street characters and children.
When the news broke that the FDA authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for emergency use in children, Wen described it as “fantastic news” that “gives much-needed peace of mind to so many parents who want additional protection for their kids.”
Wen, an advocate for stricter vaccine mandates, national digital proof-of-immunity certificates, is a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum, and a fellow at the Brookings Institute, a think tank heavily funded by Johnson & Johnson and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — potential conflicts of interests she does not disclose in her media appearances.
During an Oct. 20, 2020, episode of “ABC’S of COVID,” CNN’s Gupta stressed the importance to Sesame Street viewers of “wearing a mask outdoors.” When a child asked Gupta if they can go to the store with their mom if they have a mask, Gupta said no, saying “it’s important to just stay home.”
Dr. Amy Acton, director of health at the Ohio Department of Health, told Elmo “wearing a mask makes you a superhero.”
Episode 5 introduced the idea of death-by-COVID to the young children by presenting a collage of people who supposedly died from the virus. “There are people getting very sick and sometimes the people who got sick are no longer with us,” Gupta told Big Bird.
In Episode 6, Gupta is asked by a child if they can go back to school without a COVID vaccine. Underscoring that children will in fact be getting the shot eventually, Gupta responds by saying the “COVID vaccine is certainly going to help [go back to school]…”
In the series finale, the featured guest was none other than Dr. Anthony Fauci, who facilitated a child-oriented conversation around COVID vaccines. Fauci told children not only do they need a COVID vaccine to stay safe, but it’s possible they will need a shot every year because “we don’t know how long protection lasts.”
Fauci then told Sesame Street viewers the COVID vaccine is the reason they’re getting Christmas presents this year.
“I took a trip up to the North Pole and vaccinated Santa Claus myself,” Fauci said. “So now he can come down the chimney and safely leave the presents.”
Sesame Street’s corporate leadership and their fictional characters have been featured on The World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset Podcast,” where Sesame Street’s Grover sat alongside Sesame Workshop’s President of Global Impact, Sherrie Westin, as she told listeners that the “pandemic has created an [financial] opportunity” for investors.
Sesame Street’s private foundation of the co-founder and permanent board director, Joan Ganz Cooney, is funded by those with a direct vested interest in the uptake of COVID vaccines. The foundation, called Sesame Workshop’s Joan Ganz Cooney Center, receives “generous funding” from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and from the philanthropic foundation of pharmaceutical behemoth Johnson & Johnson.