Elmo – the beloved red puppet from the children’s program “Sesame Street” – received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, according to a video posted by the program.
“There was a little pinch, but it was okay,” said the character.
Although Elmo has been a “Sesame Street” fixture since the 1980s, he is perpetually 3 years old, according to Sesame Workshop, a non-profit organization that produces the show. This month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Emergency Use Authorization allowing vaccines to be administered to infants and children from 6 months old to 5 years old.
Additionally, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued recommendations for the use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 6 months to 5 years and for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 6 months to 4 years in the U.S. for COVID-19 prevention.
“ACIP determined that the benefits of vaccination outweigh risks for this population,” said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For children up to 4 years old, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine requires a three-dose primary series. Most other primary series are a two-dose process. Some populations, including people with certain types of immunocompromise, should receive a three-dose primary series.
According to the CDC, younger children may experience fewer side effects after COVID-19 vaccination than teens or young adults.
Possible side effects for infants and younger children include: fever, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle or joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, pain where the shot was given, irritability or crying, sleepiness and loss of appetite.
“I had a lot of questions abut Elmo getting the COVID vaccine,” said Louie, Elmo’s dad, in the public service announcement video. “Was it safe, was it the right decision? I talked to our pediatrician so I could make the right choice. I learned that Elmo getting vaccinated is the best way to keep himself, our friends, our neighbors and everyone else healthy and enjoying the things they love.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz criticized the program in a Tuesday tweet for “aggressively” advocating for vaccines in children under 5 years old.
Meanwhile, public health officials praised the message.