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Is No Country in the World Vaccinating Children Against COVID-19?

We found that USA and Canada have already started vaccinating kids aged between 12 and 15 years with Pfizer vaccine.

Updated
WebQoof
4 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>We found that the USA and Canada have already started vaccinating children from age 12-15 with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.</p></div>
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Several social media users, including Union Ministers like Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal, have tweeted saying, "no country in the world has started vaccinating children" against COVID-19.

The claim came after Member (Health) Dr VK Paul reased a document titled, "Myths & Facts on India’s Vaccination Process", in which he addressed several questions that have been raised against the Central government. The claim was a part of Dr Paul's 'fact-sheet'.

Later, an addendum was issued to clarify that the claim in the press release was regarding no country vaccinating children under 12 years of age.

Users also used that claim to question Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, after he said that Pfizer BioNTech’s vaccine should be procured to vaccinate children in India.

However, the claim is not true. While the World Health Organisation (WHO) is yet to approve a vaccine for children, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved using the Pfizer vaccine for children aged between 12 and 15 years. Infact, countries like the UAE, the USA, and Canada have already started vaccinating children in that age group, while some other countries have approved it or are expected to approve it soon.

CLAIM

Several social media users seemed to copy and paste the "fact" mentioned in the press released by Dr Paul.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam said, "As of now, no country in the world is giving vaccines to children. WHO has no recommendation on vaccinating children. Trials on children in India are going to begin soon. The decision is to be taken by scientists after data is available based on trials."

Several other ministers, journalists, and news organisations too published the same statement.

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(Source: Screenshot/Twitter)

Some other social media users questioned Kejriwal for asking the Centre to procure Pfizer vaccines for children in India. They, too, posted the same message. Some of the archived tweets can be found here, here and here.

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WHAT WE FOUND OUT

We searched on Google to see if no country is vaccinating children and found several news reports pointing at the fact that some countries have actually started vaccinating kids.

Canada was the first country to use the Pfizer vaccine to vaccinate children between the age of 12 and 15 years. The country gave the approval on 5 May 2021 and has started vaccinating children in that age group.

Five days later, on 10 May 2021, the FDA expanded the emergency use authorisation (EUA) for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and inlcuded kids aged between 12 and 15 years. As of 18 May, the US had vaccinated 6,00,000 children aged between 12 and 15 years.

Another country that has vaccinated children in that age group is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Pfizer vaccine was approved in the UAE and kids were vaccinated in schools.

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Countries like Singapore, Israel, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to start the use of the vaccine for younger people soon.

Later, the Press Information Bureau also issued an addendum to the press release on ‘Myths & Facts on India’s Vaccination Process’ and mentioned:

“The release mentions that 'no country in the world is giving vaccines to children'. It should read 'no country in the world is giving vaccines to children under 12 years'. The other points made in that section are valid. The inadvertent typographical omission is regretted.”

Meanwhile, it is important to note that the Central government had cleared the way for foreign vaccines to commercially market their COVID-19 vaccines if they have been granted emergency approvals by the US, EU, UK, and Japanese regulators, including those listed by the WHO.

The WHO has so far not given any recommendation on vaccinating children.

Bharat Biotech's Covaxin is expected to begin the trials on children in June. The drug controller gave the company permission to start the trials last week.

On Thursday, 27 May, Pfizer told the Indian government that its vaccine shows "high effectiveness" against the variant found in India. The government is yet to procure the vaccine.

Evidently, the claim that no country in the world is vaccinating children is false. Countries like the USA, UAE, and Canada have already started vaccinating kids, while some others are going to start soon.

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(Update: The article has been updated to include Press Information Bureau’s addendum to the press release on ‘Myths & Facts on India’s Vaccination Process’.)

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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