Thursday, September 15, 2011

Update: Michelle Bachman and Vaccinations

During last night's recording of The Skeptic Wire Podcast, we mentioned the exchange between Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michelle Bachmann during the recent CNN/Tea Party/GOP debate. Rep. Bachmann slammed Governor Perry's decision to issue an executive order requiring pre-teen girls in Texas to take the Gardasil vaccination for Human Papillomavirus. HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer. While Governor Perry admitted fault in how he issued the order, through executive order instead of going through the state legislature, he stood by his decision to make this particular vaccination a priority in Texas.

For the record, as much as I cannot stand Governor Rick "The Hair" Perry, I must applaud him on this decision. That is simply an aside and now back to the conversation regarding Perry vs. Bachman.

Bachmann, it seems, has firmly entrenched herself with bad science and the anti-vaccination movement. For the record, I'm not sure if this was said during the debate or in any of the many interviews afterwards. But Michele Bachmann said that she had spoken with a mother whose daughter had been harmed by the Gardasil HPV vaccination. She claimed that this mother said that her daughter suffered from mental retardation the very next day after receiving the inoculation.

Rep. Bachmann has come under some serious fire from science bloggers, and the medical community for this comment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued the following statement

"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, here 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."

Now, the challenge has been issued to Rep. Bachmann: Prove your statements regarding the Gardasil vaccine. Dr. Steven Miles, a professor of Bioethics at the University of Minnesota says he is willing to put up one thousand dollars if Rep. Bachmann will provide the medical records for the young woman who was supposedly hurt by the Gardasil vaccine. His former boss, Dr. Caplan, with the University of Pennsylvania Bioethics Department, has matched the challenge and upped the ante to $10,000.

And in typical fashion, now Rep. Bachmann is backing away from her statements about the HPV inoculation. She said she was simply repeating a statement that a distraught mother told her. Even Rush Limbaugh has called Rep. Bachmann out on her statements, saying that she had "jumped the shark"

I'm not expecting Rep. Bachmann to take up Dr. Miles and Dr. Caplan on their offers. If she does, I'll be sure to update on that event.

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