Fact Check: Chelsea Clinton-Endorsed Vaccine Program 'The Big Catch-Up' Does NOT Mandate Vaccines For US Children

Fact Check

  • by: Madison Dapcevich
Fact Check: Chelsea Clinton-Endorsed Vaccine Program 'The Big Catch-Up' Does NOT Mandate Vaccines For US Children Not Required

Does the Chelsea Clinton-endorsed vaccine program "The Big Catch-up" require U.S. children to receive a COVID-19 mRNA immunization? No, that's not true: The program is a global effort to "catch up" on giving recommended childhood vaccines, which declined globally during the 2020 pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) told Lead Stories that there are no mandated vaccinations required under this program, while a spokesperson for the former first daughter confirmed that she never stated that all children must be forced to be vaccinated.

The claim originated in an article published by The People's Voice on May 5, 2023, (archived here) under the headline, "Chelsea Clinton: 'It's Time To Force-Jab Every Unvaccinated Child in America.'" An introduction to the article read:

Chelsea Clinton has declared that unvaccinated children in America must be forced to take the mRNA jab with or without parental consent.

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."

Below is how the article appeared at the time of this publication:


(Source: The People's Voice screengrab taken Mon May 8 09:37:00 UTC 2023)

Similar versions of the claim were also published by The Children's Health Defense and in posts shared on social media that falsely implied Clinton supported the "forced" immunization of children in the U.S.

A spokesperson for Clinton confirmed to Lead Stories that she never said that all people and children should be forced to be vaccinated.

"She did not say this but very much believes (and did say) that no one should die of polio or measles or pneumonia including in this country where we also need people to be vaccinating our kids," Clinton spokesperson Sara Horowitz told Lead Stories in an email received on May 9, 2023.

WHO told Lead Stories in an email received May 8, 2023, that The Big Catch-up does not require children in any nation to be forced to receive an immunization.

"There are no mandatory vaccinations associated with this effort. Some countries require vaccines for children to enroll in school," Daniel Epstein of the WHO media relations team wrote.

The Big Catch-up refers to a global initiative announced during World Immunization Week, held the last week of April 2023. It is a joint effort among WHO, UNICEF, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Immunization Agenda 2030, among others, described as:

... a targeted global effort to boost vaccination among children following declines driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted routine vaccination efforts across the globe, resulting in about a 5 percent decline in routine childhood immunizations worldwide by the end of 2021 that affected an estimated 67 million children. The Big Catch-up prioritizes 20 countries that are home to three-quarters of impacted children, including Afghanistan, Angola, Brazil, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, Mexico, Myanmar, Tanzania and Vietnam.

Clinton announced during the FORTUNE Brainstorm Health 2023 that the Boston-based Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), where she's on the board, would take part in The Big Catch-up. Clinton's quotes in The People's Voice article were attributed to an April 25, 2023, article published by FORTUNE Well (archived here).

CHAI was founded in 2002 to support global health initiatives and strengthen health systems worldwide. In May 2021, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation issued a $3.3 million 20-month-long grant to "provide technical assistance to low- and low-middle-income countries' COVID-19 vaccine and diagnostics programs and support COVAX communications to participating countries."

It is unclear whether the U.S. will be a recipient of vaccines administered during The Big Catch-up. Lead Stories contacted CHAI and WHO for clarification and will update the article accordingly.

Lead Stories has debunked other false claims made about Clinton, including that there is no evidence her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, will face a military tribunal, that she was not hanged at GITMO and that the U.S. military did not convict her on charges of child trafficking.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Madison Dapcevich

Raised on an island in southeast Alaska, Madison grew up a perpetually curious tidepooler and has used that love of science and innovation in her now full-time role as a science reporter for the fact-checking publication Lead Stories.

Read more about or contact Madison Dapcevich

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