WHAT OTHERS SAY: Vaccine comment could harm the public

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | 11:57 a.m. CDT; updated 2:05 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 21, 2011

“I am not a doctor; I’m not a scientist; I’m not a physician,” said U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.


And the Republican presidential candidate should refrain from playing one on television. In criticizing Gov. Rick Perry’s attempt to require a vaccine for all young girls in Texas, Bachmann said the shots may have dangerous and permanent side effects. She told Fox News she got that information from a woman she met whose daughter “suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine.”

It's troubling that Bachmann believes this. There is no scientific evidence to back up such a claim about a vaccine for the human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer. Side effects are rare and usually minor. But more troubling is that she repeated on national television what an unidentified woman told her about the vaccine. She presented it as true.

Bachmann is gaining a reputation as someone who either ignores facts, doesn’t know them or doesn’t know how to sort fact from fiction. Untruths about the Founding Fathers working tirelessly to end slavery or confusing actor John Wayne with a serial killer are one thing. They only make her look uninformed and damage her credibility.

But her statement about the HPV vaccine risks harm to public health. It adds fuel to an existing anti-vaccine campaign that has no basis in facts.

Several years ago a study connected autism to childhood vaccinations. The study was debunked, but the damage had already been done. Some parents bought into it, despite cautions from medical experts, and decided not to vaccinate their children. That has contributed to a measles epidemic in England and whooping cough outbreak in California.

Such communicable diseases endanger lives. Vaccines prevent those diseases from spreading and save lives. Throughout history, immunizations have eradicated deadly and crippling diseases such as polio and small pox. When people such as Bachmann make irresponsible statements that encourage people not to vaccinate their children, the fight against communicable diseases suffers a setback.

Bachmann didn’t have to make such a claim. There are plenty of valid arguments against Perry’s requirement that Texas girls be vaccinated. The governor used an executive order to implement the requirement, defying the will of the Texas Legislature. The vaccine should not be required by the state because HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, not one children can catch from each other on the playground. There are questions about campaign contributions made by the drug manufacturer to Perry, which may have influenced his action.

Those are legitimate reasons to take issue with the Texas governor. That one mother thinks the vaccine causes a mental disability is not a legitimate reason.

Not only is there no scientific evidence to support what Bachmann said, it makes one wonder if she believes everything she hears without stopping first to check the facts.

The president of the United States can put us into a war or send the world’s markets reeling with poorly chosen words. Bachmann’s performance in the HPV controversy does not instill confidence in her judgment.

Copyright, The Des Moines Register. Reprinted with permission.

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Paul Allaire September 21, 2011 | 1:04 p.m.

This is a well written opinion and I find myself struggling to add anything to it. When the republican party has advocated candidates like herself and Palin and then actually voted for them, politics as a whole has suffered. The quality of the discourse has decreased. The party appears to be a joke as a consequence and I can't imagine that women of any stripe are having an easier time entering the field as a result of these candidates. I sometimes wonder what people in other countries think of the spectacle.

This is not to say that there are no reasons for someone to criticize Perry.

(Report Comment)
Anne Dachel September 21, 2011 | 1:33 p.m.

It truly is time to "check the facts."

It is accepted that one possible side effect of vaccinations is encephalopathy (brain damage) and yes, that can include loss of cognitive skills.

A report just out from the Elizabeth Birt Center for Law and Advocacy addresses the comment made by Michelle Bachmann and the HPV vaccine.

EBCLA: “While [Bachmann’s] claims may have missed the mark and utilized imprecise terms, perhaps the claim that vaccines can cause “mental retardation” is not so irresponsible, after careful examination. While there is no evidence that the HPV vaccine causes “mental retardation” there is evidence that it causes neurological problems, brain injury and associated cognitive problems.[2] And there is evidence, as we document below, that vaccines can and do cause “mental retardation.”

The article goes on to cite four cases from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (“VICP”). These cases were selected from many that are easily located, that clearly show the connection between vaccine injury and “mental retardation.” Notably, the decisions finding that vaccine injury caused “mental retardation” are supported by expert medical testimony.

Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

(Report Comment)
Anne Dachel September 21, 2011 | 1:34 p.m.

Like any medical product, vaccines can have side effects. If a child is damaged by a vaccination, parents can't sue either the doctor or the vaccine maker. They have been protected by federal law. Instead, parents have to go to a special, "Vaccine Court" where they're up against government lawyers defending a government program using government money. Few parents ever get their day in "court." Despite this, the U.S. government has paid out over $2 billion for serious vaccine damage, including death, since 1986. We are now learning that the Court has recognized autism as part of the damage.

A recent investigative report on HDNet TV exposed the fact that while health officials continue to tell us studies show no link, the federal government has paid out millions of dollars for compensation for vaccine injuries that included autism. Seeing these children who were born healthy and were suddenly and dramatically affected by their vaccinations should give us all pause. The U.S. Vaccine

Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

(Report Comment)
Anne Dachel September 21, 2011 | 1:35 p.m.

Parents need to educate themselves. See the book, Vaccine Epidemic and the National Vaccine Information Center

Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

(Report Comment)
Jodi Speakman September 21, 2011 | 2:18 p.m.

My daughter is one of the young girls who has been seriously ill for over 3 1/2 years. Immediately after her second vaccination, she experienced severe diarrhea, vomiting and was nauseous for about eight weeks. My daughter has undergone CT scans, MRI's, MRA's, EEG's, blood work and was hospitalized at an epilepsy center in the video EEG monitoring unit for two separate weeks in May 2008 and September 2008. A follow-up MRI was performed and a spinal tap was attempted, but was unsuccessful. She later underwent a lumbar puncture with fluoroscopy.

My daughter has been diagnosed my daughter with toxic encephalopathy secondary to the Gardasil vaccine. She currently experiences the following symptoms: non-epileptic seizures, migraines, fainting, various tremors, twitches and numbness, intermittent leg paralysis and facial paralysis, tingling, staring or blank episodes, eye pain, joint pain, neck pain, back pain, memory loss, confusion, brain fog, regression, mood swings, hair loss and chronic fatigue. She continues to have bouts of nausea and diarrhea. She has not been in school since April 2008. My daughter can never be left home alone. She can't go to school, go out with her friends or work or has little "normalcy" in her life. She has very few good days and always says she doesn't feel good.

My daughter’s treating neurologist informed me that he does believe that my daughter’s symptoms were brought on by the vaccine, just not in a way that he could test or prove.

By the way, I am not anti-vaccine. If I were, my daughter would not have been vaccinated with Gardasil. Perhaps Merck should spend dollars trying to find help for the many thousands of girls who are suffering from adverse reactions. After all, there is no help for the girls who passed away as a result of Gardasil.

Jodi Speakman

(Report Comment)
Charles leverett September 21, 2011 | 3:54 p.m.

The problem with that comment is that is just isn't the right that has such political figures, the left has plenty of their own too, and it too makes the party look like a joke. I'm sorry if it hurts to hear that, but the dems are no better then the repubs.
And though there might be plenty to criticize about Perry, there is plenty more to criticize our own president about.

(Report Comment)

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