The COVID-19 pandemic has long been politicized by the right, but now the culture wars surrounding the question of whether children should be vaccinated seem to have reached absurd new heights, with Republicans lashing out at Muppetcharacters.
It all began when Sesame Street's Big Bird announced on Twitter that he'd been vaccinated.
In a tweet, Big Bird said that while his "wing is feeling a little sore," he knows the vaccine will give his "body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy."
Big Bird's announcement soon drew the ire of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas,) who has often been criticized for downplaying the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cruz claimed that Big Bird's announcement was evidence of "Government propaganda... for your 5 year old."
Cruz wasn't the only Republican who insisted that Big Bird's announcement amounted to "propaganda."
Speaking on "Fox & Friends," co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy insisted that the effort to vaccinate children is evidence of an underlying "authoritarianism" in American society:
"We talked a little bit here earlier about the mandates, about the authoritarianism we see creeping into our society and our culture, what's most disturbing is what we're seeing done to our kids.
"They're also upset about what I see, and I talked about this on prime time this week, a lot of propaganda about the vaccines being not directed to the parents, not information given to parents, so they can make that decision really giving it directly to the kids in some really creepy ways including 'Sesame Street.'"
Meanwhile, Fox News personality Lisa Boothe characterized Big Bird's announcement as part of a "Brainwashing" campaign to convince "children who are not at risk from COVID" to get vaccinated.
Similarly, Newsmax host Steve Cortes referred to the announcement as "evil."
The pushback from prominent Republicans comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended "that children 5 to 11 years old be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine" in a press release:
"Scientists have conducted clinical trials with about 3,000 children and the FDA has determined that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has met the safety and efficacy standards for authorization in children ages 5 through 15 years."
Naturally, these Republicans have faced significant blowback online for peddling misinformation at a critical juncture in the national inoculation campaign.
Big Bird did have many fans who cheered his decision to get vaccinated, the most prominent being President Joe Biden, who praised him for doing his part "to keep your whole neighborhood safe."
Unfortunately, Big Bird wasn't the only Muppet to face blowback from conservatives who've railed against COVID-19 vaccines.
Over the weekend, Elmo, everyone's favorite furry red monster, was criticized after announcing that he and other cast members of Sesame Street had met with neurosurgeon and medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta to discuss COVID-19 vaccines during a CNN town hall.