Chelsea Clinton, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Health Organization (WHO) are teaming up in an effort titled “The Big Catch-up” to push vaccinations onto young children.
According to a press release, other “global and national health partners,” including the W.H.O., UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have joined the “The Big Catch-up” dubbed as “a targeted global effort to boost vaccination among children following declines driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Citing a decline in childhood vaccination triggered by COVID-19, the press release notes other factors, including the “climate crisis” and “vaccine hesitancy,” as reasons for the decline.
The press release notes:
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,” president of Global Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Chris Elias, said.
Besides the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Chelsea Clinton, the vice chair of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), expressed hope that that the vaccinations effort will be “the greatest childhood immunization effort ever.”
“We all deserve to hopefully not be as unprepared as I worry we are at the moment,” she said.
At Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in Marina del Rey in April, Clinton stated 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,” Clinton said.
“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 added.
Clinton also blamed the “lack of trust and confidence in not only our scientists but in science itself and certainly in the public health professionals.”
“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,” she said.
According to the C.D.C., nearly 85 percent of adults in the U.S. have completed their primary Covid-19 vaccination series. However, only a third have received a “bivalent booster.”
But parent when it comes to the government’s vaccine mandate for children, parents are refusing to comply.
Earlier this year, the C.D.C. officially added annual Covid vaccination for children beginning at six months to its childhood immunization schedule.
“It’s not just COVID vaccine uptake that’s lacking,” Fortune reports.
“Not even 70% of U.S. kids ages 2 and under were considered fully vaccinated during 2020-2021, having received a full set of shots for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, and other diseases common before the vaccine era.”
The Big Catch-up effort aims to promote other vaccines not part of childhood immunization schedules.
“In addition to catching up on childhood immunization, intensified efforts are needed to introduce the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to adolescents to prevent cervical cancer, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where the burden is highest,” the WHO states.
Clinton partnered with the WHO to promote vaccines years before the COVID-19 pandemic.
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