Why Big Bird's Announcement Has Twitter In A Tizzy

If you are a parent who has spent months worrying going over the "what ifs" and "maybes" that have risen as a result of sending your young child to school in the middle of a pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent announcement about children between the ages of five and 11 being eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must have brought some measure of relief. At one Florida site in Palm Beach County alone, health care workers say they were able to put shots in the arms of 200 children over a five hour period (via WPTV). 

One of those who "got" the vaccine late last week was beloved "Sesame Street" character Big Bird, who took to Twitter to reveal his vaccination status as he said, "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."

Big Bird's announcement that he had gotten inoculated against COVID-19 drew cheers from appreciative parents like President Joe Biden, who tweeted back at the 8' 2" bird, saying, "Good on ya, @BigBird. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep your whole neighborhood safe." Others posted photos of their children proudly declaring that they had gotten shots in arms, too. One parent even shared a photo of her immunocompromised daughter with a note of gratitude, saying, "Thanks @BigBird for helping keep #powerfulpaigey and other kiddos who are immunocompromised safe and healthy! We love you."

Ted Cruz said that Big Bird's post was 'propaganda'

Not everyone was thrilled about Big Bird's effort to get himself inoculated against COVID-19, even if the disease has been known to jump from human to pet. Ted Cruz shared Big Bird's vaccine announcement on social media with his own response, calling it, "Government propaganda... for your 5 year old!" The comment didn't go down too well with the internet, many of whom took Cruz literally. "Let me help you with this," one Twitter user said. "Big Bird = not the government. You = the government. One of these 2 things is a source of government propaganda, and it's probably the one that is actually the government." Another pointed out, "Ted Cruz works for the government but thinks 'Sesame Street' promoting life-saving vaccines is 'government propaganda.' If you want to see actual government propaganda, just browse Ted's timeline." A third invited Cruz to put matters into perspective, saying, "You're shouting at poultry, dude."

A fourth opted to chide Cruz by pointing out all the good Big Bird and "Sesame Street" have done, saying, "Look at what else they're indoctrinating our kids with! Look both ways before you cross the street. Eat your vegetables. Yellow and blue make green. Wash your hands after you use the toilet. What's happening to my country?"

Sesame Street has been supporting vaccines for decades

In case there are those of us who might have believed that both Big Bird and "Sesame Street" were weaponized to encourage children to get the COVID-19 shots, Twitter took the opportunity to remind skeptics that Big Bird has been lining up to get vaccinated since the early 1970s (via Twitter). In fact, the character was even behind Big Bird's "Sesame Street" Child Immunization Campaign, and made a point of getting vaccinated against the measles on-camera over five decades ago (via NPR). As this social media user pointed out, "Big Bird didn't become political. The GOP just decided to make mundane noncontroversial issues political."

Big Bird's tweet may well be part of a campaign by "Sesame Street's" creator, Sesame Workshop — and its partner, the Ad Council — to create and share public service announcements about the coronavirus pandemic and the role of vaccines in stopping the spread of COVID-19. The resources, which are available in both Spanish and English, also encourage healthy behaviors in young children like hand washing. The initiative, called "It's Up To You," was launched in February 2021 and is billed as "the largest communications program" in U.S. history (via Sesame Workshop).