Less than a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced its recommendation that young children receive the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s brought out the big guns to promote it to families: Elmo.
The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) teamed up with Sesame Workshop, in collaboration with Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative, to launch a new PSA featuring the cuddly red character and his dad Louie receiving the coronavirus vaccine. It aims to inform parents with children above six months old about the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, following the recent FDA emergency use authorization.
In the minute-long ad, the father-son duo sits on their couch at home discussing their experience receiving the vaccine. Louie praises Elmo, who is three-and-a-half-years old, for getting the jab.
“Yes, there was a little pinch, but it was okay,” Elmo responds, walking away to to look for his toy Baby David. Louie then takes the moment to confess to viewers that he had many questions about the vaccine and its safety. He ultimately tells the audience that he talked to the family’s pediatrician so that he “could make the right choice,” and that Elmo getting the vaccine is “the best way to keep himself, our friends, neighbors, and everyone else healthy and enjoying the things they love.”
Nearly 5.7 million child COVID-19 cases have been reported in 2022 alone, yet according to AAP, only 29% of children of ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated. Ad Council research found that among parents with children of ages under five, over half of them believe that their children are most at risk of COVID-19 infection in public settings, while 52% of them have not firmly decided if they shall let their children receive the vaccine.
The PSA acknowledges parents' confusion and need for answers. “It’s okay to have questions about COVID vaccine for your kids,” a V.O. says, encouraging the audience to speak with their pediatricians or healthcare providers.
“We know there is tremendous relief that comes with the authorization of these vaccines for kids under five, but many questions too,” aid Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council, in a statement. “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.”
“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,” added Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President of US Social Impact at Sesame Workshop.” With help from Elmo and his dad Louie, we want to model real conversations, encourage parents’ questions, and help children know what to expect.”
The ad is available in both English and Spanish. Additionally, Sesame Workshop is releasing bilingual resources for parents, caregivers, and providers to answer common questions in age-appropriate ways and offer guidance on preparing children for vaccinations.
This new PSA is a continuation of the collaboration between Sesame Workshop, COVID Collaborative, the Ad Council, CDC, and AAP. Past COVID-related collaborative campaigns includes “It’s Up To You” COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative, featuring videos “Feeling Hopeful with Elmo and Louie” and “Healthy Family With Elmo and Louie,” and “I’ll Be Seeing You” PSA, which features a take on Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You” sung by the Letter U.