FILED IN: Health

AAP corrects Michele Bachmann on HPV vaccine safety

AAP tells Bachmann vaccine is safe

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a message for Michele Bachmann: You’re wrong about the HPV vaccine.

During the Republican presidential debate Monday evening, Bachmann hammered away at presidential nominee hopeful Texas Gov. Rick Perry over his executive order in 2007 making it mandatory that girls receive the vaccine against the human papilloma virus, considered one of the main causes of cervical cancer.

The move was considered controversial by social conservatives, because HPV is sexually transmitted and it is argued by some that the administering of the vaccine will encourage young teens to be sexually active.

Bachmann criticized Perry about the mandate during the debate, pointing out that Perry may have had financial incentive to pass the law due to his ties to Merck, the pharmaceutical manufacturer that was the only producer of the vaccine at the time.

She brought up the HPV vaccine again Tuesday morning during an appearance on the Today show, but this time Bachmann indicated that the vaccine may also be unsafe.

Bachmann claims that she was approached by a woman after the debate, who told her that the woman’s daughter had received the HPV vaccine and that “she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.” She added that the vaccine “can have very dangerous side effects” and that there is a “very real concern.”

But the AAP refutes Bachmann’s assertions, saying in a statement that “there is absolutely no scientific validity to [the vaccine causing mental retardation]” and that the vaccine has “an excellent safety record” after over 35 million administered doses.

Dr. O. Marion Burton, president of the AAP said, “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.”

He added, “This is a life-saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer.”