Make-A-Wish Foundation to Accept All Children Regardless of Vaccination Status
The company is clarifying its policy after widespread backlash.
As the pandemic begins to wane thanks to widespread distribution and access to vaccines, it's easy to forget that for some, being vaccinated isn't a safe or viable option.
For those with life-threatening and complicated illnesses, being eligible to be vaccinated isn't a guarantee, making it difficult to travel or attend certain venues or cities that have restrictions put into place where only vaccinated patrons are allowed to enter.
This also applies for children under age 12 in the U.S. who have still not been cleared to receive immunization.
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At the helm of this dilemma has been the Make-A-Wish foundation, who last week announced that it would open up wishes that include air travel or large gatherings to children who are vaccinated.
The statement upset many, who misinterpreted the policy to mean that only vaccinated children (which would also mean only children above the age of 12) would be eligible for wish granting.
"The Make a Wish Foundation is going to discriminate against unvaccinated terminal kids," one Twitter user said. "What a disgrace of a world we live in!"
After condemnation and backlash, the organization released a statement clarifying its policy.
One Sunday night, Make-A-Wish clarified that it will continue with "wish-granting" for all children, regardless of vaccination status, as it has since the onset of the pandemic.
The company explained that in addition to wishes that it has been granting for children during the pandemic, it will now open up to include wishes involving air travel and large gatherings for those who are vaccinated.
"We understand that there are many families whose children aren't eligible for the vaccine yet, and we also know that there are families who are choosing to not get the vaccine," the company said. "We respect everyone's freedom of choice. Make-A-Wish will continue to grant wishes for all eligible children. Make-A-Wish will not require anyone to get vaccinated to receive a wish."
The company explained that it has been working and consulting with health care professionals throughout the pandemic via its internal National Medical Advisory Council as well as monitoring updated guidelines from the CDC.
Related: 4 Ways to Protect Your Health After the Pandemic
Make-A-Wish also explained that in an emergency end-of-life diagnosis for a participant, the company will employ a "special process" to make the wish come to life regardless of whether or not a child is vaccinated.
"We look forward to the day when medical experts advise that we can lift all restrictions," the organization explained. "Above all, we remain committed to our vision of granting the wish of every eligible child. As we enter phase one of our reemergence plan, we thank you for your patience, your cooperation, your partnership, and your trust."
The foundation says that it has granted over 6,500 wishes to children amid the pandemic, an impressive feat given the complicated restrictions put into place in the past year.
These include virtual celebrity meetings, staycations, room redecorations and road trips.