By McKenzie Ward
Last weekend, the beloved Muppet, Big Bird, a character on PBS’ show “Sesame Street” tweeted that he had gotten his COVID-19 vaccination shot, following the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11. While Big Bird has been a staple of the show since 1969, he is officially 6 years old, according to NPR.
This was not the first time that the television show has used their Muppets to help children understand current events and their emotions during times of crisis such as 9/11, the loss of a loved one, and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic.
Big Bird’s account tweeted on Saturday morning, “I got the COVID-19 vaccine today! My wing is feeling a little sore, but it’ll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy. Ms. @EricaRHill even said I’ve been getting vaccines since I was a little bird. I had no idea!” This tweet is part of the show’s larger campaign, The ABCs of Covid Vaccines, which was created to educate parents about the vaccine.
Big Bird’s tweet was met with lots of positivity and even President Joe Biden tweeted the Big Bird account and said “Good on ya, @Bigbird. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep your whole neighborhood safe.”
But as we have seen for years now, going as far back as the 2012 election with Mitt Romney’s vow to cut funding for PBS, the right has waged some peculiar fight against the children’s TV show. This time it sent Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on a multiple tweet ramage calling Big Bird’s tweet, “Government propaganda...for your 5 year old!”
Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers tweeted “Big Bird is a communist.”
After the last Ove years I thought I had really seen it all, but I never pictured a day where Republican members of Congress would be waging a war against a 8-foot 2-inch yellow Muppet because they think he’s a communist.
They’re acting as if he showed up on “Sesame Street” with copies of Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” to hand out to children.
But of course, the Republican party members never fail to amaze me with their abilities to focus on anything but what actually is important – such as a global pandemic.
In the United States, there have been over 46 million COVID-19 cases and over 751,000 deaths as a result of COVID-19 as of Nov. 10, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In Texas there have been over 4.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 72,000 COVID-19 fatalities reported, according to The New York Times. The Texas Department of State Health reported that unvaccinated Texans are 20 times more likely to die as a result of COVID-19 than Texans who are fully immunized.
Something that many of us thought wouldn’t impact our lives for more than two weeks has claimed the lives of 5 million people globally, according to the WHO.
But rather than being concerned about the ongoing public health crisis our country is struggling with, Cruz is more concerned about a Muppet from a children’s TV show getting a vaccine, a vaccine he already has.
The FDA approving the Pfzier vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is a game-changer when it comes to helping stop the transmission of COVID-19. While COVID-19 may be infecting and killing fewer kids than adults, it does not mean children cannot be infected and then spread it to unvaccinated adults.
According to Dr. Antony Fauci, for the United States to reach herd immunity, children need to be vaccinated.
And while some may see Big Bird as an unlikely advocate for public health, “Sesame Street” has been using Big Bird to advocate for vaccines since 1972 when he received the vaccine against measles. This was another campaign that “Sesame Street” did to encourage children to be inoculated, according to NPR.
Cruz needs to start putting his desire to satisfy the anti-science crowd aside and realize that he is contributing to the deaths of thousands of Americans by refusing to advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Science is real.
And of course, Big Bird isn’t a communist.
Just a Muppet trying to help encourage people to get vaccinated to protect their neighborhoods.