White House hopeful Michele Bachmann has ramped up her attack on 2012 opponent Rick Perry’s past support for a mandatory HPV vaccine, suggesting that the vaccine, Gardasil, can cause mental retardation.
Bachmann hammered Perry in last night’s GOP debate for having ties to pharmaceutical giant Merck, the manufacturer of Gardasil — Perry’s longtime friend and aide Mike Toomey has been a registered lobbyist for Merck, and the company has given thousands of dollars to the Texas governor’s past campaigns. Bachmann furthered her criticism In two post-debate interviews, saying that she was approached by a mother after the debate who claimed her daughter became mentally retarded after receiving the vaccine.
Bachmann did not offer any evidence aside from that anecdote that a link actually exists between Gardasil and retardation.
According to the centres 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.
“As with all VAERS reports, serious events may or may not have been caused by [Gardasil],” the CDC website states, adding specifically that, “There has been no indication that Gardasil increases the rate of GBS above the rate expected in the general population, whether or not they were vaccinated.”
Anti-vaccine advocates have long speculated that inoculations can cause serious mental complications, including Autism. Those concerns were fuelled in large part by a 1998 study, which was formally retracted last year, that purported to show a link between vaccinations and autism.
Rick Perry pushed back against Bachmann’s claims on Tuesday in an interview with NBC.
“You heard the same arguments about giving our children protections from some of the childhood diseases, and they were … autism was part of that. Now we’ve subsequently found out that was generated and not true,”
“I would suggest to you that this issue about Gardasil and making it available was about saving people’s lives,” he added.
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