Fact Check: UNICEF Did NOT Promote 'Unauthorized Procedures' For Children In 2020-22

Fact Check

  • by: Ioana Burtea
Fact Check: UNICEF Did NOT Promote 'Unauthorized Procedures' For Children In 2020-22 All Authorised

Is UNICEF a supra-state organization that promoted "unauthorized procedures" for children during the COVID-19 pandemic? No, that's not true: All COVID vaccines administered to adults and children during the pandemic were authorized for use.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on TikTok by user @aurelianr0 on December 14, 2023, under the title (translated from Romanian to English by Lead Stories staff) "UNICEF is scolding us about measles." The user, while talking about measles vaccination rate, said (as translated):

UNICEF is warning us we're at the bottom with vaccination rates for measles. UNICEF clearly has solved everything else when it comes to humanitarian aid for starving children in Africa or children who are exploited in cobalt mines. The only thing left for this UNICEF, a supra-state organization that promoted unauthorized medical procedures for children between 2020-2022, is this new purpose in life.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-12-19 at 16.41.21.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Dec 19 13:05:09 2023 UTC)

The claim refers to a statement by UNICEF issued on December 15, 2023, regarding a growing number of measles cases in Europe and Central Asia, with Romania mentioned as having the highest rate of cases in Europe and weak immunization coverage.

By mentioning the 2020-22 timeframe, the TikTok user appears to be referring to the COVID pandemic, suggesting that UNICEF encouraged that children be vaccinated against COVID, claiming that such vaccines were not authorized. This is false. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency authorized vaccines for children in two stages at the World Health Organization's recommendations: a first one in 2021 for children aged 5-11 years old, and a second one in 2022 for children 6 months and older.

There is no proof that UNICEF promoted the use of COVID vaccines for children before 2021. They did start COVAX, a vaccine supply operation, in February 2021, but this was aimed at vaccinating health care workers: "In vaccinating health workers globally, we help ensure that children and their mothers get the critical health care they need - vaccinations, treatment of malnutrition and other deadly diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea, as well as obstetric, prenatal and post-natal care along with services for newborns."

The user on TikTok has used anti-vaccine rhetoric in their posts in the past (archived here) and has shared false theories that the COVID-19 pandemic was orchestrated by world leaders (archived here).

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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.


  Ioana Burtea

Ioana Burtea has worked in journalism for 15 years. She started her career at Mediafax news agency in Bucharest and has written for DoR magazine for over seven years. Her collaborations include publications like Europe & Me, New Eastern Europe, Balkan Insight and Washington Post. Ioana published pieces on the justice system in Romania, social affairs, politics and personal essays. In 2018,  she became a fellow of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.  In 2021, she received the first prize in the Portrait category at the national Superscrieri journalism awards.

Read more about or contact Ioana Burtea

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