By Taruka Srivastava | Freelance journalist

June 29, 2022 | 4 min read

The Muppets of Sesame Street – Louie and his son Elmo – are urging more parents to get their kids under five years old vaccinated.

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, in collaboration with the Ad Council and Covid Collaborative’s Covid-19 Vaccine Education Initiative, has released a spot starring Elmo, the three-and-a-half-year-old Muppet, after receiving his Covid-19 vaccine.

He features alongside his father Louie, who shares that he had a lot of questions about the vaccines and spoke with a pediatrician. Louie reminds parents that it’s OK to have questions, and encourages viewers to talk to a pediatrician or healthcare provider for the latest facts about the vaccines, which are proven to reduce the chances of serious illness and hospitalization from Covid-19. Viewers are then encouraged to visit GetVaccineAnswers.org for the latest information on the Covid-19 vaccines.

Apart from the spot – which is available in both English and Spanish – Sesame Workshop is releasing additional bilingual resources for parents, caregivers and providers to answer common questions in age-appropriate ways and provide strategies to help children prepare for vaccinations.

The PSA, produced in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), further encourages parents and caregivers to get informed about the Covid-19 vaccines following the recent FDA emergency use authorization and CDC recommendation of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for children aged 6 months and older.

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According to AAP, just 29% of children aged 5-11 and 59% of adolescents aged 12-17 in the US were fully vaccinated at the beginning of June. New Ad Council research found that 52% of parents have not firmly made up their mind about getting their child under 5 vaccinated. The research also revealed that over 50% of parents believe their children under 5 years old were most at risk of a Covid-19 infection in public settings, namely out-of-home childcare and out in public. With summer activities starting up and the new school season approaching, the vaccines will help to protect children in these public settings that parents indicate make them most vulnerable.

Kids under 5 will be considered fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with two doses of the Moderna vaccine (a quarter of the dose for adults) four weeks apart, or three doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine (a tenth of the dose for adults), with the first two doses given three weeks apart and a third dose administered at least eight weeks after the second dose.

Lisa Sherman, president and chief executive officer of the Ad Council, said: “We know there is a tremendous relief that comes with the authorization of these vaccines for kids under 5, but many questions too. It’s important that parents feel informed and confident about what the Covid-19 vaccines mean for their families, and we are proud to work with our partners, medical experts and, of course, Elmo to spread that message.

“Our work with Sesame Workshop has been invaluable in helping us to connect parents and caregivers with the accurate information they need when deciding to vaccinate their children against Covid-19 – an important decision many need to make in advance of the upcoming school season.”

Dr Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice-president of US social impact at Sesame Workshop, said: “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. With help from Elmo and his dad Louie, we want to model real conversations, encourage parents’ questions and help children know what to expect. We’re proud to continue our efforts with the Ad Council, Covid Collaborative, CDC and AAP to help families get connected to information and keep their children, neighbors and communities safe and healthy.”

AAP president Moira Szilagyi added: “The months, and even years, of worry have been especially hard on these families as they adjusted their activities through the pandemic to keep their children safe. Covid vaccination for this age group is one more tool parents now have in their toolbox to help their children thrive.”

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