Newly appointed Surgeon General Vivek Murthy teamed up with Elmo to promote vaccines amid concern from the Department of Health and Human Services that declining vaccination rates across the country could lead to the resurgence of preventable diseases. HHS released a 30-second video in which Murthy tells Elmo to get vaccinated. “It’s my job to help everyone stay health,” Murthy tells Elmo, who then wonders: “Can Elmo help too?” At which point Murthy tells him that the way to help is to “get all your vaccinations on time” and get all his Sesame Street buddies to get vaccinated as well.
The more entertaining video though is a longer one produced by the Daily Dot that appears to be more directly targeted at anti-vaccination advocates “I was worried about getting a shot,” Elmo says and wonders why he even needs vaccines anyway. “Let me ask you this: do you carry an umbrella when it rains?” Murthy answers. “Of course—Elmo likes to stay dry.” Murthy then compares getting vaccinated to wearing a helmet before suggesting to Elmo that he sing a little song while he’s getting the shot. “Why doesn’t everybody get a vaccination?” Elmo wondered when he realized it wasn’t that big of a deal. “That’s a good question, Elmo,” Murthy answered. “That’s a good question.”
In a blog post introducing the videos, Murthy explains the importance of vaccines:
Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools we have for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but they also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. Among children in the U.S. born between 1994 and 2013, routine vaccinations will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.