Pakistan Polio vaccinations halted after killings amid panic over sterilisation conspiracy theories

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Pakistan has suspended an anti-polio vaccination campaign after a health worker and two police were shot dead, and a social media health scare caused near hysteria.

Unknown gunmen killed one health worker and two police guards in separate attacks in north eastern Pakistan, while fake claims that the vaccine was harmful started a panic among parents in the region.

More than 25,000 children were admitted to hospital after false reports the vaccine was causing vomiting and fainting. A mob also burned down a health centre.

Pakistani health officials had hoped to end the circulation of the virus this year, but recent months have seen a stubborn increase in cases, while samples show it is still in sewage in many cities.

Conspiracy theories that polio drops are a Western plot to sterilise Muslims, or rumours they are harmful, have fed a small, but stubborn and occasionally violent resistance to vaccination. The CIA’s use of a fake vaccination campaign to gather DNA samples in the hunt for Osama bin Laden added to suspicion.



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