Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, in collaboration with the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative launched a new public service advertisement (PSA) today featuring Elmo and his dad Louie. The PSA, produced in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 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. The new PSA is the latest in a series of spots featuring the Sesame Street Muppets, first geared towards adult vaccinations and most recently for children ages 5 and up.
Nearly 5.7 million child cases of COVID-19 have been reported nationally in 2022 alone, making vaccination an important step to protecting both kids and their families against the highly contagious virus and its variants. According to AAP, just 29% of children ages 5-11 and 59% of adolescents ages 12-17 in the U.S. were fully vaccinated at the beginning of June. New Ad Council research found that 52% of parents have not firmly made up their mind either way 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 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.
Featuring Elmo, the new spot shows the 3 ½ -year-old Muppet just after receiving his COVID-19 vaccine alongside his dad Louie, who shares that he had a lot of questions about the vaccines and spoke with a pediatrician. Louie reminds parents that it’s okay 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 talk with their pediatrician and visit GetVaccineAnswers.org for the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccines. View the full PSA here.
“We know there is 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,” said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “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.”
In addition to the new 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 new PSA and resources, which are part of Sesame Workshop’s Caring for Each Other COVID-19 response initiative, are located at SesameStreetinCommunities.org/vaccines. The resources are designed for community providers and partners to share with families as part of their services.
“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,” said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President of US Social Impact at Sesame Workshop. “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.”
The new PSA is a continuation of the collaboration between Sesame Workshop, COVID Collaborative, the Ad Council, CDC and AAP. In December, 6-year-old Big Bird and his Granny Bird were featured in a video for parents and caregivers of children ages 5 to 12 years. Elmo and Louie have also starred in other PSAs for the “It’s Up To You” COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative, including “Feeling Hopeful with Elmo and Louie” and “Healthy Family With Elmo and Louie.” And multiple Sesame Street friends were featured in the “I’ll Be Seeing You” PSA, which features a take on Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You” sung by the Letter U.
“Parents have been waiting a long time to vaccinate their youngest children and protect them from serious illness and hospitalization,” said AAP President Moira Szilagyi, MD, PhD, FAAP. “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.”
In addition to the Sesame Workshop PSAs, the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative, “It’s Up To You” also released new PSAs in March featuring doctors and medical experts, including one geared towards answering parents’ questions about the COVID-19 vaccines and their safety for kids. View the spot here.
The overarching creative platform for the COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative, “It’s Up To You,” was developed by Pereira O’Dell, with additional campaign assets created by JOY Collective, Alma, Saatchi & Saatchi, Deutsch LA, Group SJR, Coffee Bluff Pictures and other partners to ensure the American public has the latest and most accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccines. Since launching a year ago, the campaign has received $327.8M in media support and related publicity across all channels, with at least 75% of Americans eligible for the vaccine having seen “It’s Up To You” ads and driving over 12.4 million sessions to GetVaccineAnswers.org. Of those who visit GetVaccineAnswers.org with concerns, nearly 51% left feeling more confident about getting vaccinated.
Leading contributors to the vaccine education campaign include Amazon, Apple, Bank of America, Cisco, Comcast NBCUniversal, CVS Health, Facebook, General Motors, Google and YouTube, The Humana Foundation, Reckitt, Salesforce, Verizon, Walgreens and Walmart. Significant contributions have also been provided by Adobe, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, BNY Mellon, Budweiser/Anheuser-Busch Foundation, Business Roundtable, Caterpillar Foundation, Citi, Ford Motor Company, Honeywell, JPMorgan Chase, Kaiser Permanente, Mastercard, the New York Life Foundation, Stanley Black & Decker, Synchrony, Target, Unilever, Wells Fargo and ViacomCBS.