NPR : News

Filed Under:

Pediatricians Fact-Check Bachmann's Bashing of HPV Vaccine

Now the nation's pediatricians have waded deep and early into the race for the presidency. In an unusual instance of political fact-checking of a candidate's statements by physicians themselves, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a tough prescription for Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann: Get your facts straight on the HPV vaccine.

In case you missed it, she sparred with Texas Gov. Rick Perry Monday night over his executive order that would have mandated vaccination of state schoolgirls against human papillomavirus, a cause of cervical cancer.

"To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat-out wrong," Bachmann said. "Little girls who have a potentially dangerous reaction to this drug don't get a mulligan," she said. "You don't get a do-over."

Perry defended the decision, but conceded that the legal mechanism to reach the goal should have been different.

But on the Today show Tuesday morning, Bachmann went further, telling Matt Lauer, that a mother had approached her after the debate to recount the problems her daughter had after being vaccinated against HPV:

She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection. And she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. The mother was crying when she came up to me last night. I didn't know who she was before the debate. This is the very real concern and people have to draw their own conclusions.

When Lauer pressed Bachmann on whether she would keep pushing on the issue, she answered that it has traction "with a lot of people and we'll see what people say."

Not with kids' doctors it doesn't. In an apparent first for the national pediatricians' group during a political campaign, the AAP called Bachmann out, though it stopped short of doing so by name.

In a statement released late Tuesday, Dr. O. Marion Burton, the president of the group, said:

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.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Game Of Thrones' Evolves On Women In Explosive Sixth Season

The sixth season of HBO's Game of Thrones showed a real evolution in the way the show portrays women and in the season finale, several female characters ascended to power. NPR's Kelly McEvers talks to Glen Weldon from NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour and Greta Johnsen, host of the Nerdette podcast, about the show.
NPR

In Quest For Happier Chickens, Perdue Shifts How Birds Live And Die

Perdue Farms, the fourth-largest poultry company in the country, says it will change its slaughter methods and also some of its poultry houses. Animal welfare groups are cheering.
NPR

Hawaii Law Places Gun Owners Into National Database

NPR's Kelly McEvers speaks with Hawaii State Sen. Will Espero about gun control legislation passed in the state last week. The legislation makes Hawaii the first state to enter gun owners into an FBI database that notifies police if a resident is arrested elsewhere in the country.
WAMU 88.5

Episode 5: Why 1986 Still Matters

In 1986, a federal official issued a warning: If Metro continued to expand rapidly, the system faced a future of stark choices over maintaining existing infrastructure. Metro chose expansion. We talk to a historian about that decision. We also hear from a former Metro general manager about the following years, and from an Arlington planner about measuring how riders are responding to SafeTrack.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.