Big Bird's seemingly innocuous — and obviously fictional — announcement Saturday that he has been vaccinated against Covid-19 caused a stir online, as Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas accused the yellow anthropomorphic bird of tweeting "government propaganda."
"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," the 8-foot, 2-inch Muppet wrote on Twitter. "Ms. @EricaRHill even said I've been getting vaccines since I was a little bird. I had no idea!"
While Big Bird has been on "Sesame Street" for decades, his ageless character is meant to be 6 years old. He became eligible for the vaccine only in late October, when the Food and Drug Administration announced that it had authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
The right wing quickly seized on the Muppet's tweet.
"Government propaganda…for your 5 year old!" Cruz tweeted.
"Brainwashing children who are not at risk from COVID. Twisted," Lisa Boothe of Fox News wrote.
Robbie Starbuck, a Republican running for Congress in Tennessee, joked about Big Bird's dying from the shot, saying "*7 days later* Big blood clot Bird is served!"
Many people were happy to see Big Bird's tweet, thanking "Sesame Street" for discussing the shot. People also shared clips from decades ago in which the yellow puppet introduced to concept of vaccination to the show's audience.
"Sesame Street" has been addressing Covid-19 throughout the pandemic, discussing vaccines and teaching kids about masks and staying healthy.
Little research has been done about birds' getting Covid-19, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says "chickens and ducks do not seem to become infected or spread the infection based on results from studies."