As locals learn to fear vaccines, a global health campaign is being rolled back.
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Last year the CIA deployed a Pakistani physician to execute a phony hepatitis vaccine campaign in Abbottabad, hoping to extract blood samples from the children living inside a compound, thought to house Osama bin Laden and his family. Because of the vaccine deception, multiple imams and Taliban leaders have declared that vaccines are CIA plots. The ruse may also be responsible for what appears to have been an assassination attempt against a World Health Organization immunization convoy that injured two people on July 17.
After the bin Laden incident, Dr. Orin Levine, a key figure in global vaccine efforts, and I wrote in the Washington Post that the CIA's plot "burned bridges that took years for health workers to build." Our concerns were dismissed last summer by the Obama administration, with unnamed spokespersons for the CIA insisting that ridding the world of the al-Qaeda leader was more than worth whatever "minor problems" might be experienced in vaccination efforts.