Make-A-Wish clarifies policy after confusion on vaccinations

US & World

FILE – In this Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019 photo, a girl holds a sign while waiting for her cousin to arrive for a surprise Make-A-Wish announcement in Rogers, Ark. In June 2021, the Make-a-Wish Foundation is disputing what it calls a “misinformation” campaign about whether children who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 will be eligible to have their wishes granted. (Ben Goff/The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP)

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is disputing what it calls a “misinformation” campaign about whether children who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 will be eligible to have their wishes granted.

The foundation says these children are in fact still eligible.

An edited video of Make-A-Wish Foundation CEO Richard Davis that went viral on social media over the weekend caused a stir by seeming to suggest that only vaccinated children would be eligible to have wishes granted. Stars like actor Rob Schneider and numerous donors declared that if the foundation had decided not to grant wishes to unvaccinated children, they would no longer support it.

The confusion arose from the fact that the video clip that went viral cuts off before Davis had finished his explanation in the two-minute, 22-second video about which children would be eligible. The outbreak of COVID-19 led Make-A-Wish to postpone granting some wishes — for all children, whether vaccinated for not — that might put them at risk.

The video, emailed on June 9, was meant to inform families of Make-A-Wish children and foundation volunteers that certain types of wishes, including those involving air travel or large crowds, would resume being granted again in September and that planning to fulfill them could begin. But certain wishes for unvaccinated children that are currently deemed to be risky will continue to be on hold until medical guidance changes.

“We respect everyone’s freedom of choice,” Davis says in the full video, in which he also acknowledges that some children may be too young or too ill to be vaccinated. “We can’t wait until Sept. 15, when we can expand the types of life-changing wishes we can grant.”

To clarify the “misinformation and falsehoods on social media and in some media outlets,” the foundation issued a simpler statement:

“Make-A-Wish has not, does not and will not deny wishes to children who are not vaccinated… Make-A-Wish will continue to grant wishes to children who are not vaccinated.”

The foundation said it had expected some backlash about its decision to delay granting wishes for some Make-A-Wish children. But it made that choice because it “focused on listening to medical experts and doing what was right and in the best interest of the health and safety of all our wish families.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the foundation has granted over 6,500 wishes to children and their families, regardless of vaccination status.

The foundation also said it continues to work with Make-A-Wish kids to reimagine their wishes, stressing that any child fighting a critical illness is eligible for a wish.

Nor will a child’s vaccination status be taken into account “in time-sensitive situations involving an end-of-life diagnosis,” where a special process will be used to fulfill the child’s wish.

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The Associated Press receives support from the Lilly Endowment for coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits. The AP is solely responsible for all content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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