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Fact Check-McDonald’s is not giving ‘experimental’ vaccines to children

Posts claiming McDonald’s is giving experimental vaccines to children are untrue. The fast-food company is partnering with the California Department of Public Health to offer free vaccinations at more than 70 locations in the state, and the vaccines have gone through rigorous testing by government agencies.

Examples can be seen here and here . The text on one post reads: “McDonald’s is giving out experimental MRNA inoculations to children.”

McDonald’s partnered with the California Department of Public Health to have pop-up clinics at more than 70 locations in the state starting June 21, 2021. Those who receive the vaccine will also receive a coupon for one menu item free of charge, as explained by McDonald’s camcdevents.com/ and by the California Department of Health here . The page explains that no appointment or health insurance is required.

The fast food company also partnered with the Biden administration on an informational campaign for COVID-19 vaccines, as seen in a May 11, 2021 release here .

The initiative began with COVID-19 information on a McDonald’s billboard in Times Square and will continue into July 2021 with text on McCafe cups and McDelivery seal stickers advising customers to visit “vaccines.gov” (www.vaccines.gov/), which provides information on COVID-19 and how to find a vaccine nearby.

The posts appear to use the word “experimental” to cast doubt over the safety of the vaccines. However, the COVID-19 vaccines being administered in the United States have all been put through safety testing before being rolled out to the public. 

The United States has authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for emergency use (here).

Emergency use authorization (EUA) was issued because of the severity of the pandemic. When the pandemic is over, the EUA will cease and vaccine manufacturers will need to apply for full U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval (here).

The Johnson & Johnson shot is a viral vector vaccine, a type that is also used during Ebola outbreaks, as well as in studies of illnesses including influenza, Zika and HIV (here ). It uses a modified and weakened version of a harmless adenovirus to deliver instructions to cells to make coronavirus spike proteins. This will generate an immune response and prevent infection ( here ,  here ). 

Meanwhile, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) to generate a similar immune response. While these are the first mRNA vaccines to be rolled out to the general public, the technology behind them has been developed over a number of years (here ).

Pfizer’s phase three clinical trial began in late July 2020 and the results were published in December 2020 (here ). The trial enrolled 46,331 participants at 153 sites around the world in Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and the United States, according to Pfizer’s website (here ).

Johnson & Johnson recruited 44,325 people for its phase three clinical trial between September 2020 and January 2021 (here , here ), while Moderna had 30,420 volunteers for the same phase of testing between July and October 2020 (here ).

Reuters debunked the claim that the COVID-19 vaccines are experimental in a previous article, here .

VERDICT

Misleading. McDonald’s is not giving experimental vaccines to children or adults. Some locations of the fast food company will offer free COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use by the FDA.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .         

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