Written by Brandon Betancourt
Last night was the GOP debate. We saw the usual stuff that is expected in these things. The candidates debated Social Security, jobs and the economy. During the debate, however, Michele Bachmann, member of the United States House of Representatives, said that vaccines, particularly the HPV vaccine, caused “mental retardation.”
Bachmann, in a post-debate interview, told Fox News that a woman had approached her and told her that she had a daughter who “suffered mental retardation as a result of the vaccine.”
Bachmann shared the same story on the Today show, telling Matt Lauer that the woman’s “little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”
In an interview with Sean Hannity she had this to say when asked about her claims
“I have no idea … I am not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a physician. All I was doing is reporting what this woman told me last night at the debate …”
I find it irresponsible that a congressional representative, or anybody with that kind of influence, would make such a claim on a national stage going only on the anecdote of a stranger.
I hope that parents listening to this type of rhetoric understand that politicians are politicians, who may or may not have people’s best interests at heart.
Michele Bachmann is obviously not educated enough in the science behind vaccines. But here is what I hope parents understand. Your pediatrician does have your children’s best interest at heart. That is why pediatricians recommend that girls receive HPV vaccine around age 11 or 12.
The American Academy of Pediatrics issued an important press release rebutting Bachmann’s HPV claim. Here is the official response from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
“The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation. There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend that girls receive HPV vaccine around age 11 or 12. That’s because this is the age at which the vaccine produces the best immune response in the body, and because it’s important to protect girls well before the onset of sexual activity. In the U.S., about 6 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year, and 4,000 women die from cervical cancer. This is a life-saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer.”
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