The Central government has come under heavy criticism for the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic and shortage of life-saving vaccines despite India being one of the largest manufacturers. The government released a list on May 27, addressing ‘myths’ around the inoculation program. The list essentially tries to make the case that the Centre has been tirelessly working to acquire vaccines from overseas, ramp up domestic production, provide vaccines to states and ensure vaccination of children.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted a link to the PIB press release which claims, “As of now, no country in the world is giving vaccines to children. WHO has no recommendation on vaccinating children.”

The ‘myths’ were busted by NITI Aayog member Dr Vinod Paul. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal also tweeted the part that claims no country in the world has begun vaccinating children.

NITI Aayog’s release was also reported by news agency ANI and several other media outlets. Twitter handle of PIB India and All India Radio News also put out a graphic with the same claim.


The claim that no country has rolled out the vaccination program for children is false. It has been widely reported that the United States of America, Canada and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have started vaccinating children. More than 6,00,000 children between the age of 12 to 15 have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccination in the US as of May 18.

According to a report by The New York Times, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had only given emergency authorization to Pfizer-BioNTech for children aged between 12 to 17 in May 2021. Two other vaccines – Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – are likely to be given emergency authorization in the coming months.

A report by German news agency DW states that Canada was the first country to approve a vaccine for children aged 12 and above on May 5. Furthermore, an article published by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on May 27 stated, “Both Ontario and Quebec are vaccinating children as young as 12, covering all the federally approved age groups. These children have to be age 12 as of their appointment date.”

On May 24, UAE-based The National News reported, “Private schools in the UAE have immunised thousands of pupils against Covid-19 in the week since authorities approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15.”

DPS Dubai had recently tweeted about a vaccination drive organised for children above 12 years.

Qatar has also opened up online registration for children to get vaccinated.

There are also reports which state that Bahrain has approved Pfizer-BioNTech for children above 12 years.

WHO does not recommend vaccinating children

While the government’s claim that no country in the world is vaccinating children is false, it is true that there is no WHO recommendation on vaccinating children. At the time of writing the article, WHO’s website said, “There is not yet enough evidence on the use of vaccines against COVID-19 in children to make recommendations for children to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Children and adolescents tend to have milder disease compared to adults. However, children should continue to have the recommended childhood vaccines.”

However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “everyone 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against COVID-19.” CDC has informed that children 12 years and above are able to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Government takes back statement, clarifies

Approximately 7 hours after it pointed out that a few countries have started vaccinating children, NITI Aayog’s Dr VK Paul gave a statement to ANI. “1-2 countries will start doing that now. WHO hasn’t given any recommendation yet to cover the pediatric population in general as any illness in the pediatric population is very very mild,” he was quoted by the news agency.

The Finance Minister quote-tweeted his clarification.

The press release was later updated saying, “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” and termed the error as a ” typographical omission”.

PIB deleted its earlier tweet and subsequently tweeted another graphic that says ‘children under 12 years’.

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About the Author

Jignesh is a writer and researcher at Alt News. He has a knack for visual investigation with a major interest in fact-checking videos and images. He has completed his Masters in Journalism from Gujarat University.