Analysis: Bachmann HPV vaccine comments toxic: doctors

Sep 15, 2011, 2:01 p.m.
Rep. Michele Bachmann participates in the CNN/Tea Party Republican presidential candidates debate in Tampa, Florida, September 12, 2011. REUTERS/Scott Audette

"We've got 12,000 women a year in this country getting cervical cancer. The vaccine could prevent about 70 percent of that," Alexander said.

Vaccine fears have already fueled recent outbreaks of measles, mumps and whooping cough, according to the CDC.

Much of the fear stemmed from a study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the now-disgraced British doctor who researchers believe falsified data for a 1998 study which convinced thousands of parents that vaccines are dangerous.

Concerns that vaccines might cause autism have not only caused parents to skip vaccinating their children, but also forced costly reformulations of many vaccines.

Bachmann's suggestion that the HPV vaccine may be linked with "mental retardation" only feeds into those fears.

"What is especially disturbing is you've got organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists -- every learned medical organization in the country and indeed around the world -- in favor of immunization," Alexander of the University of Chicago said.

Jackson said when presented with information about the HPV vaccine, about 85 percent of families decide to have their child vaccinated, about 12 percent are hesitant, and the rest are "flat-out refusers."

It's the families in that 12 percent she is worried about.

"It's not going to impact the flat-out refusers. I worry it is going to impact this group of vaccine-hesitant families."

(Editing by Michele Gershberg and Xavier Briand)

(The following story has been corrected to make clear in paragraph eight that Texas no longer mandates the HPV vaccine)

Editor's Picks

Most Recent