The fact that polio vaccination was used as a political tool in deadly global politics in Pakistan makes me especially angry. It is outrageous that some vaccinators were murdered, and some children who should have received vaccines did not. When vaccines are misused for political ends, we undermine trust in all vaccines. If the U.S. government used vaccines as tools of war once, then some people may wonder about us and the vaccines.
I was passionate about signing the letter that the deans sent to President Obama. The president and his key staff members in homeland security and counterterrorism deserve credit for paying attention to our letter and for committing in May, 2014, that “[The CIA] will make no operational use of vaccination programs or vaccination workers.”
As we wrote, “…today we are on the verge of completely eradicating polio…” I hope that countries where polio has been on the rise—Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria—will redouble their efforts and will not make excuses for denying their countries the benefits of 20th-century science and medicine. No child should die of, become crippled by or fear a disease we can prevent.