Going on the offensive against Texas Governor Rick Perry for issuing an executive mandate that young girls receive a vaccine against HPV, Rep. Michele Bachman embraced the fringe (and thoroughly discredited) claim that vaccination can cause mental retardation. Details here and here. It is understandable that a parent whose child experiences difficulties will be distraught and search for answers, but to give credence to the claim that vaccination causes mental retardation, autism, or other disabilities is thoroughly irresponsible. It is one thing to debate whether a state government should mandate that children are vaccinated against something like HPV, and whether a voluntary opt-out provision is protective enough of parental prerogatives. It is quite another to suggest that mandated vaccination creates serious health risks when there is no evidence to support such a claim.
For what it’s worth, I criticized Senator John McCain for a similar offense in 2008.
UPDATE: Henry Miller reports some additional things Rep. Bachmann should know about the HPV vaccine. Even if Gov. Perry was wrong to order the vaccinations, there’s absolutely no basis for suggesting the vaccine is a threat to children.