Two university professors have ponied up an $11,000 reward for the family of a girl who Republican presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann keeps bringing up as an example of how harmful the HPV vaccination is.
The profs doubt that such a girl exists and they’d like some proof in the form of released medical records.
At Monday night’s GOP debate, Michelle Bachmann again hammered Texas Gov. Rick Perry for proposing a mandate for all Texas girls to get the shot, which protects against most types of cervical cancer caused by HPV. She told Fox News that a woman came up to her after the debate, thanking her for standing up against the vaccine. Here’s what she said, according to the Minnesota Star-Tribune online:
“There’s a woman that came up crying to me tonight after the debate,” Bachman told Fox News. “She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She said her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine.”
Bachmann repeated the story Tuesday morning on the Today Show.
The two men offering the rewards, Steven Miles, a U of M bioethics professor, and Art Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics, say that the message Bachmann is sending in telling and retelling this story is one that could do serious harm to the public health. “The woman, assuming she exists, put this claim into the public domain and it’s an extremely serious claim and it deserves to be analyzed,” Miles told the Star Tribune.
The vaccine has stirred up controversy since it came out a few years ago. Though it has proven to be effective in preventing the infections that cause most forms of cervical cancer, not everyone was in favor of it. Some religious groups came out against it saying it would promote promiscuous behavior in young children. Others claimed their daughters suffered severe reactions to the three shots, which has scared many parents from getting it for their daughters and sons.
There is no credible evidence that Gardasil or Cervarix cause brain damage of any kind and reports of serious adverse effects from the shots are few. Furthermore, none have been conclusively linked to death, blood clots or other serious reactions.
Bachmann claims lives are at risk in getting the vaccination, when exactly the opposite is true: lives become more at risk without it.
Here’s Bachmann telling the story for the first time: