Human Exceptionalism

Bachmann Shamefully Claims That HPV Vaccine Causes Mental Retardation

I opposed Gov. Rick Perry’s attempt to make the HPV vaccine mandatory for all of Texas’s girls. But this is ridiculous. In attempting to hit Perry for “crony capitalism” because of his ties to the vaccines manufacturer–a fair hit–she goes way out of bounds by stating that the HPV vaccine causes “mental retardation.” Her proof? A woman in a crowd told her so.  Irresponsible in the extreme.

I checked.  The HPV vaccine can, like any vaccine, have some side effects.  But mental retardation has not been reported.  From the Business Insider story:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the 35 million doses of Gardasil distributed in the U.S., 18,727 individuals, or about 0.05%, have reported some kind of side effect — and mental retardation is not one of them. Of that small percentage of reported side effects, 92% were considered to be “non-serious.” Those non-serious side effects include fainting, nausea, swelling, fever — side effects also associated with most vaccines. As for the “serious” side effects, the CDC notes that it has received reports of hospitalization, permanent disability, and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological disease that weakens muscles. However, the CDC also notes that all reported side effects compiled in their Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System do not prove that there is a causal relationship between a given vaccine and a subsequent health issue.

All politicians use emotional anecdotes to back up their assertions–but this is shameful. Bachmann owes a duty to parents who are considering whether to give their daughters (and even sons) the vaccine to walk this baseless claim back. If she doesn’t, she should not be considered as a serious candidate for POTUS.  Making such a provocative and baseless claim just to hit a political opponent calls into question Bachmann’s competence, temperament, and capacity to lead.


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