Ted Cruz sparks Twitter debate as GOP freaks out over Elmo’s 'COVID shot' on Sesame Street

Ted Cruz sparks Twitter debate as GOP freaks out over Elmo’s 'COVID shot' on Sesame Street
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Gage Skidmore
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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is not pleased with Sesame Street's latest segment featuring Elmo getting his COVID vaccination in wake of the United States' announcement authorizing vaccines for children under the age of 5.

According to The Washington Post, the segment which was shared online on Tuesday, June 28, featured toddler-aged Elmo describing his vaccination experience. Elmo's father, Louie also chimed in.

“I had a lot of questions about Elmo getting the COVID vaccine. Was it safe? Was it the right decision? I talked to our pediatrician so I could make the right choice,” Louie said in the clip. “I learned that Elmo getting vaccinated is the best way to keep himself, our friends, neighbors, and everyone else healthy and enjoying the things they love.”

The Texas senator took to Twitter with a retweet of the clip and a scathing opinion of it as he criticized the long-running children's broadcast. Cruz expressed concern as he claimed the show allowed Elmo to “aggressively advocate for vaccinating children UNDER 5.” He added, “You cite ZERO scientific evidence for this.”

Cruz's remarks opened the door for more critical comments. Dr. Vincent Ianelli tweeted, "I have a question! Why does Texas lead the country in pediatric COVID deaths? #tweetiatrician"

Another user tweeted, "If you want scientific evidence regarding the vaccines, then you should have been supporting science from the beginning of the pandemic."

"Wow, you're being more proactive about this than you were about elementary school kids getting shot up in your state. Nice priorities!" another user tweeted.

The Republican lawmaker's remarks follow the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) granting of emergency-use authorization of COVID vaccines for younger children. This is Cruz's second attack on Sesame Street as he also expressed disapproval of Big Bird being vaccinated. Last year, he criticized the popular bird which led to a mocking comedy sketch featured on Saturday Night Live.

"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, who is portrayed as a 6-year-old, said after being vaccinated. In response to the segment, Cruz argued that the scene was a form of “government propaganda.” However, President Joe Biden commended Big Bird tweeting, “Good on ya, @BigBird. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep your whole neighborhood safe.”

In wake of the criticism leveled toward the series, Jeanette Betancourt, the Sesame Workshop senior vice president of U.S. social impact, released a statement.

“Many parents understandably have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines for young children, and we want to encourage them to ask questions and seek out information,” Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of U.S. social impact at Sesame Workshop, said in a statement.

“With help from Elmo and his dad Louie, we want to model real conversations, encourage parents’ questions, and help children know what to expect,” she added.

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