W.H.O., Chelsea Clinton, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Team Up to Push Child Vaccinations

Several organizations — including the World Health Organization, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Chelsea Clinton via the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) — are teaming up to push vaccinations onto children in an effort titled “The Big Catch-up.”

A press release detailing the effort identifies W.H.O., UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and “many other global and national health partners” joining together for “The Big Catch-up,” which they describe as “a targeted global effort to boost vaccination among children following declines driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It cites declines in childhood vaccination, largely triggered by the Chinese coronavirus pandemic. The press release also points to “vaccine hesitancy,” as well as the “climate crisis” as contributing factors to the decline.

Per the press release:

With over 25 million children missing at least one vaccination in 2021 alone, outbreaks of preventable diseases, including measles, diphtheria, polio and yellow fever are already becoming more prevalent and severe. The Big Catch-up aims to protect populations from vaccine-preventable outbreaks, save children’s lives and strengthen national health systems.

While calling on people and governments in every country to play their part in helping to catch up by reaching the children who missed out, The Big Catch-up will have a particular focus on the 20 countries where three quarters of the children who missed vaccinations in 2021 live*.

“We must double down to reach all children with the vaccines they need to live healthier lives and ensure that future generations live free of preventable diseases like polio,” Dr. Chris Elias, president of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a statement.

Chelsea Clinton, who is the vice chair of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), hopes this will be “the largest childhood immunization effort ever.”

“We all deserve to hopefully not be as unprepared as I worry we are at the moment,” she said.

During an April appearance at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in Marina del Rey, California, she stated, contending that the U.S. is “less prepared today than we were arguably in January of 2020”:

I do think, though, you know, when you ask about the role of public-private partnerships, and after the last few years, I think we spend so much time understandably focused on the mRNA vaccines and technologies. I spent a lot of time thinking about the really unfortunate — to try to use a not-too-judgmental word — kind of rise in not only kind of vaccine hesitancy and questioning, but outright kind of rejection of vaccines and of science in the scientific kind of process, and also, too often on our scientists or epidemiologists, are frontline healthcare workers,” Clinton said during an April appearance at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in Marina del Rey, California, contending that the U.S. is “ less prepared today than we were arguably in January of 2020.

She blamed that partly on the “lack of trust and confidence in not only our scientists, but in science itself and certainly in the public health professionals.”

Clinton continued:

We need the public sector to hopefully stop doing things like stripping away public health emergency powers from state public health agencies. We also need the private sector to help candidly, like, do a better job of helping explain of the science that you are already commercializing and bringing to market, but also what you’re working on, and help us kind of in the broader conversation, not be uncomfortable with the discomfort of uncertainty.

The effort comes more than three years after the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and boosters. The vaccines, over the years, have, indeed, prompted hesitancy among the general public, given the fact that they do not prevent transmission of the virus. Nor do they stop one from contracting it, among other things. This comes despite original claims from public health experts and President Biden himself.

A March 2023 survey from Morning Consult found over one-quarter of Americans possess vaccine skepticism.



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