By Kate Yandell
An international initiative called the Big Catch-Up aims to increase vaccination among children who have missed routine vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. In describing the project, Chelsea Clinton did not say it was time to “force-jab every unvaccinated child in America,” nor will the project impose mandatory vaccinations, contrary to claims.
On April 24, multiple organizations, including the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced a joint project called the Big Catch-Up to increase the number of children who are up-to-date on their vaccines. The initiative is particularly focused on 20 countries that are home to especially large numbers of children who missed routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic. These nations are primarily in Africa and Asia, and do not include the U.S.
Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, spoke briefly about the Big Catch-Up on April 25 at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference, emphasizing the importance of making sure people don’t die of preventable infectious diseases in the U.S. or abroad.
Many social media posts are sharing an article that uses a fabricated quote in its headline: “Chelsea Clinton: ‘It’s Time To Force-Jab Every Unvaccinated Child in America.’” A spokesperson for Clinton told the Associated Press that Clinton did not say this. We were also unable to find a record of Clinton saying this.
The article does not specify when Clinton supposedly made remarks about “force-jabbing” children but references the Big Catch-Up, stating: “Chelsea – via the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) – along with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says she hopes to force jab unvaccinated children via a new initiative called ‘The Big Catch-up.’”
However, the Big Catch-Up will not involve forced vaccinations, WHO spokesperson Daniel Epstein told us in an email. “There are no mandatory vaccinations associated with this effort. Some countries require vaccines for children to enroll in school,” he said.
The press release announcing the project stated that missed vaccines during the pandemic have led to outbreaks of measles, diphtheria, polio and yellow fever. Children missed vaccines because health services were overburdened or closed, access to medical supplies was disrupted, and people’s travel was restricted, the release explained.
“To ensure progress on childhood immunization, partners are working with countries to strengthen health care workforces, improve health service delivery, build trust and demand for vaccines within communities, and address gaps and obstacles to restoring immunization,” the release said. It added that further effort needs to go into vaccinating adolescents against human papillomavirus.
And while the Big Catch-Up is a global effort, it will “have a particular focus on the 20 countries where three quarters of the children who missed vaccinations in 2021 live,” the press release said. The U.S. is not on this list.
Clinton mentioned the need for American parents to get their children vaccinated as an aside during her Brainstorm Health conference remarks on the Big Catch-Up. But she did not say anything about forcing parents to get their children vaccinated.
Clinton, April 25: A new effort that we’re a part of is the new initiative launched by the World Health Organization last week to try to catch kids up on their routine immunizations. In 2021 alone, more than 25 million kids under the age of 1 missed at least one routine immunization. And so we’re working with the WHO and the Gates Foundation and others to hopefully have the largest childhood immunization effort ever over the next 18 months to catch as many kids up as possible. Because no one should die of polio or measles or pneumonia, including in this country, where we also need people to be vaccinating their kids.
In a separate part of the same interview not focused on the Big Catch-Up, Clinton spoke about vaccine hesitancy. Again, there was no reference to forcing vaccines on children.
“I spend a lot of time thinking about the really unfortunate, to try to use a not-too-judgmental word, rise in not only vaccine hesitancy and questioning, but outright rejection of vaccines and of science and the scientific process and also too often on our scientists, our epidemiologists, our frontline health care workers,” she said.
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