Spurred by their shared concern that vaccinating their children will do more harm than good, parents in Los Angeles who have taken an anti-vaccination stance—“anti-vaxxers,” as those among their ranks are called—could be putting more than their own kids’ health at risk.
The increase of polio in Pakistan is being linked to a secret CIA effort to hunt Osama bin Laden, in which the agency set up fake vaccination clinics in the city of Abbottabad in order to get DNA from the bin Laden family. The Taliban subsequently banned immunization efforts and carried out deadly attacks on medical workers.
The World Health Organization warned Monday that polio has re-emerged as a public health emergency, after new cases of the crippling disease began surfacing and spreading across borders from countries such as Syria and Pakistan.
Writing in Harper’s Magazine, author and mother Eula Biss places the common American fear of vaccination within a history of religion and midwifery, the anxieties of social class, “debates over the integrity of science” and the decision whether to vaccinate her own son.