Conservatives fume at an unlikely target: A pro-vaccine Big Bird

The right rages at kid’s show for promoting vaccinations as FDA authorises jabs for children age 5 and up

John Bowden
Sunday 07 November 2021 19:25
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Vaccinations Begin for Younger Children

Conservatives, including a Republican US senator, have a new target in their war against public health measures aimed at preventing Covid-19: Big Bird.

Sen Ted Cruz joined a number of right-wingers in blasting a Twitter account for the beloved Sesame Street star Big Bird over the weekend after the account tweeted that the cartoon muppet had received a vaccine against Covid-19.

“Government propaganda...for your 5-year-old!” wrote Mr Cruz.

The Texas senator wasn’t alone in his criticism. Conservative columnist and radio host Lisa Boothe described the tweet as an attempt at “brainwashing” US children.

Tomi Lahren, a right-wing gadfly and Fox Nation host, accused the Sesame Workshop of “shaming [kids] into getting a still largely experimental vaccine”.

The claim that the Covid-19 vaccines being distributed in the US are supposedly “experimental” is false. All three of the US-approved Covid-19 vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson) went through both animal and human testing before being authorised for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Those studies involved tens of thousands of participants each.

In addition, the Pfizer vaccine moved from emergency use authorisation to full approval by the FDA in August after the agency reviewed its license application.

Those facts have not stopped conservatives from continuing to spread misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine as well as other public health measures such as mask mandates and social distancing measures.

Other members of Mr Cruz’s own party have taken a different approach and urged Americans to get vaccinated in the hopes of reducing Covid-19 rates around the country.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly urged Americans to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as fast as possible in July, and notably did not face the same kind of heat felt by Big Bird after his tweet on Saturday.

“If there is anybody out there willing to listen: Get vaccinated,” Mr McConnell said at a press conference at the time.

“These shots need to get in everybody’s arms as rapidly as possible or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for — that we went through last year,” he continued, adding: “This is not complicated.”

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