Straying into politics
But it’s for the good of humanity! The two fine looking individuals to the right are of course Rep. Michelle Bachmann and Gov. Rick Perry, two candidates for the Republican nomination for President. They are having a bit of a disagreement at present, over Mr. Perry’s position as Governor of Texas that all girls should receive the Gardisil vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. Ms. Bachmann disagrees with that position, and feels that it should be the right of the individual to decide whether to receive a vaccination or not. Her position on Monday’s debate was to say the this amounted to “government-mandated injection” and escalated her rant on Tuesday to claim that HPV vaccinations cause mental retardation.
I’ve previously put forward my firm position on the efficacy of vaccination, and so I won’t rehash those arguments in great detail here. The fact is, inexpensive, easily accessible, and high compliance vaccination is the single greatest improvement in public health in the United States in modern times. The last biggest sea-change in medicine was probably the elimination of blood letting in the Middle Ages. But Michelle Bachmann probably won’t listen to me. Consequently, the American Association of Pediatrics came out with this terse press release:
The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation. There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record.
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. This is a life-saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer.
Short and to the point. On seeing this news alert, I went to the Health and Human Services website to look at the most recent data for vaccine adverse reactions. According to the CDC Adverse Effect Reporting System, there were approximately 2800 adverse reactions to all of the different HPV vaccines in 2010, which included Gardisil, as well as several other vaccine derivatives against related pathogens. In the entire US last year, there were only 160 deaths associated with ANY vaccine, a fabulous rate considering the many tens of millions of vaccines administered last year. I did not calculate the number due to Gardisil, but assume less than 5% of the total, and you are left with 30 or so deaths. Contrast that with the 4000 deaths due to cervical cancer last year, out of 12,000 cervical cancer cases, and many of those cases will succumb to their cancer this year. That quick comparison says that you are 100 times more likely to die of cervical cancer in any given year than a once in a lifetime adverse Gardisil reaction.
As recorded in an interview with Sean Hannity, Bachmann declared ” I am not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a physician.” You know what? I think that if you are going to preface your remarks with that kind of qualifier, perhaps you shouldn’t be making a scientific or medical pronouncement. Leave those things to people who will actually take the time to examine cold, hard facts instead of anecdote and innuendo. And maybe use some logic and a bit of common sense as well.
Posted on September 14, 2011, in Danger danger danger!, Important, Rant, Sad and tagged American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV vaccine, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.