Rep. Michele Bachmann's latest attack on Texas Gov. Rick Perry may be hurting her considerably more than him.
Some in the medical community, in addition to the media, have blasted the Minnesota congresswoman after she bashed her fellow Republican candidate at Monday night's Tea Party/CNN debate for mandating that sixth grade girls in his state be vaccinated against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that has been linked to the development of cervical cancer.
In an attempt to bolster her fledgling campaign, Bachmann took her criticism a step farther while speaking to Fox News after the debate, implying that a Gardasil vaccination could have disastrous consequences.
I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate, Bachmann said. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.
Bachmann did not offer any scientific evidence to suggest there is actually a viable link between Gardasil and mental retardation.
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Of the 35 million doses of Gardasil distributed in the U.S., only about 0.05 percent of individuals who have been vaccinated have reported some kind of side effect, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mental retardation was not one of them.
While most of the reported side effects are considered non-serious -- mostly consisting of fainting, nausea, swelling and fever -- the CDC reports serious side effects include hospitalization, permanent disability and Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare neurological disease that weakens muscles. Only eight percent of the reported side effects were serious.
Bachmann's statement has been torn apart by those working in the health sector. Evan Siegfried, a spokesman for the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, told Politico that Bachmann's decision to promote a fear of vaccines is dangerous and irresponsible.
There is zero credible scientific evidence that vaccines cause mental retardation or autism. She should cease trying to foment fear in order to advance her political agenda, he said.
Even ultra-conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh spoke out against Bachmann's verbal faux-pas.
Michele Bachmann, she might have blown it today. Well, not blown it but she might have jumped the shark today - if she'd have just left it alone on this vaccination thing from last night, he said on his radio show Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Perry himself has already dismissed Bachmann's statement. Although, during the debate, he said the mandate was a mistake, Perry said his only goal was to save lives.
You heard the same arguments about giving our children protections from some of the childhood diseases, and... autism was part of that, he told NBC News on Tuesday. Now we've subsequently found out that was generated and not true.