Last night in the CNN Tea Party Debate (I am still trying to figure out how CNN and the Tea Party came together), Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry had a heated exchange about Perry’s attempted Executive Order to require all twelve year old girls in Texas to receive an HPV vaccination.

As most PD regulars know, I am no fan of Rick Perry and certainly not one to defend him, nor am I defending him now, but Bachmann made a couple of assertions that were blatantly false.

Bachmann Claim: Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a mulligan.

Facts

  • According to the CDC, of the 35 million doses distributed, 0.0044% of patients have had serious side effects
  • After conducting extensive research, Texas Children’s Hostipal, arguably the world’s best pediatrics hospital, recommends the HPV vaccination for both adolescent males and females as a preventative measure

Bachmann talks about scaring seniors related to social security and medicare, but she’s scaring parents away from a drug that may be able to prevent their child from getting cancer.  If the CDC and Texas Children’s says it’s safe, then it’s safe.  If she believes differently, I’d love to know on what research she is basing her information.

Bachmann Claim: The Governor’s former Chief of Staff was the Chief Lobbyist for this drug company.  The drug company gave thousands of dollars in political donations to the Governor.

Facts

  • Mike Toomey, Perry’s former Chief of Staff, is a Partner in The Texas Lobby Group and is widely regarded as one of the top lobbyists in Texas.  Merck was listed as one of his clients in 2009
  • Merck’s PAC gave Perry $6,000 for his re-election campaign
  • At the time, there was no other alternative to Garadsil, the HPV vaccination, on the market

Bachmann is way off on this one.  First, if you are regarded as one of the top lobbyists in Texas, the big companies like Merck are going to flock to you.  As a lobbyist, you probably aren’t going to turn away a client like Merck.  Second, Merck’s PAC gave Perry $6,000.  So what?  Third, most mandated vaccinations started out or are still the only option on the market.  For example, only within the last couple of years has there been an option in meningitis vaccinations.  Gardasil did not have a competitor until October 2009, over two years after the controversy in Texas.

I did not support Rick Perry in his attempt to mandate the HPV vaccination (or much of anything else for that matter).  Although I would make sure my child received the vaccine, I am in agreement with Bachmann that it is not the government’s place to require children to receive vaccinations, particularly when the illness will not infect the mass population, such as measles.  That said, Bachmann needs to focus her energy on the appropriateness of the mandate rather than making up facts that will scare people away from a good vaccine and creating a scandal that doesn’t exist.

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