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Elmo joins Surgeon General, urges kids to get vaccinated

Elmo from Sesame Street is putting a child-friendly face on a major public health issue: the importance of vaccines for protecting kids from the spread of preventable diseases.

In a new public service announcement, Elmo teamed up with the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy to help spread the word.

"It's my job to help people stay healthy," Murthy explains in the video, and when Elmo asks what he can do to help, Murthy says, "You can get all your vaccinations on time. Those are the shots that help you stay healthy."

Shots? Elmo wasn't happy to hear that word, but Murthy reassures him, "It's just a little pinch. And it's safe."

"Ok," the muppet replies, "Elmo will get vaccinated!"

The campaign, aimed at children and their parents, is the latest effort to boost vaccination rates after an outbreak of measles that started at Disneyland sickened scores of people, most of whom had not been vaccinated.

"Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools we have for preventing disease and death," Murthy wrote in a blog post about the campaign. "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."