DP15847 In Vaccines We Trust? The Effects of the CIA's Vaccine Ruse on Immunization in Pakistan

Author(s): Monica Martinez-Bravo, Andreas Stegmann
Publication Date: February 2021
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Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15847

In July 2011, the Pakistani public learnt that the CIA had used a vaccination campaign as cover to capture Osama Bin Laden. The Taliban leveraged on this information and launched an anti-vaccine propaganda campaign to discredit vaccines and vaccination workers. We evaluate the effects of these events on immunization by implementing a Difference-in-Differences strategy across cohorts and districts. We find that vaccination rates declined 12 to 20% per standard deviation in support for Islamist parties. These results suggest that information discrediting vaccination campaigns can negatively affect trust in health services and demand for immunization.