Bachmann Earned Wakefield’s Vote
Last week my husband was watching the CNN Republican debate in our bedroom as I sorted articles of clothing from my overflowing closet into trash and donate piles. When I caught a second between “what was I drinking when I bought this” and “did I seriously wear that” thoughts I half-listened in to the comments coming from the TV. However, when Minnesota’s 6th district representative started talking about my state and the HPV vaccine she managed to recruit my undivided attention.
Once Michele Bachmann’s statements crossed the line between executive orders and entered the territory of science and health care it was obvious to anyone that she was out of her league. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that anecdotal statements and political figures are not acceptable sources of medical or scientific advice.
Her statements at the debate were so deep in propaganda and “innocent little girl” statements that even Herman and Chomsky weren’t sure if we were still discussing recipients of a vaccine or had moved on to victims of kidnapping and cults.
But, then she fully strayed from politics and went on to say really bizarre things about the vaccine, like that it caused mental retardation. It hasn’t been officially confirmed, but I heard she won over Andrew Wakefield’s vote with that one.
However, despite the outright ridiculous nature of her statements, I’m trying to look on the bright side of her blatant disregard for research and reality.
Representative Bachmann has ignited a conversation about the HPV vaccine that has been quiet for some time. In the past week there has been an array of positive and factual information written about the HPV vaccine. My Twitter feed and blog roll has been inundated with information from people of much more qualified backgrounds regarding the purpose, safety and relative risks of this vaccine. If you want some quick, basic information with lots of sources in graphic format check out David McCandless’ infographic.
Here’s the thing – the group of people who would tend to take what Ms. Bachmann says to heart are those who are less likely to be discussing the HPV vaccine in the first place. While the conversation may have been ignited for the wrong reasons – inaccurate information from an unqualified source – maybe parents will at least bring this up with their child’s provider now. Or maybe they will happen upon one of the great news articles or blogs written on the subject since Bachmann took her bizarre stance on the vaccine.
The more liberal side of the fence probably doesn’t believe anything out of her mouth anyway, so I’m not really concerned about it affecting their likelihood of choosing to to vaccinate against HPV.
Your view on the pros and cons of the HPV vaccine are just that – yours. The choice to vaccinate or not vaccinate against HPV is a choice to be made by parents and their teenagers. There are not many things in medicine that can actually prevent cancer, but the Hepatitis C and HPV vaccines can. I encourage parents and teenagers to use reliable sources to come up with their views on if this vaccine is necessary for them or their children. I hope they know the realities of HPV and cervical cancer and understand the proven benefits and side effects of the vaccine.
In the end, I’d ask that Michele Bachmann and other politicians refrain from spreading lies about potentially life-saving medical interventions for their own perceived gain. However, if they are going to continue to do it, which they most certainly are, I hope that we can use these types of statements as a reason to put factual information into the hands of those who need it.
- David McCandless Infographic
- Seattle Mama Doc Blog
- CDC Vaccine Safety
- CDC – HPV Vaccine in Young Women
- Cancer.gov Prevention Fact Sheet
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I’m an Ob/Gyn resident (that means I went to medical school to become a doctor) and now I'm working like a crazy person to learn my trade before I'm on my own in the wild. Once upon a time I birthed a couple of babies of my own, they're friggin' adorable twin toddlers now. My life story through November 2010 can be viewed here. The events in the many years following can be summed up as wedding bells, books, exams, babies, and doctoring. I only started this blog in hopes of landing a role in a Lifetime movie so I could quit medicine and move to Hollywood, so if you wouldn't take medical advice from Angelina Jolie, you shouldn't take it from me. I may not even be a real person. In fact, I'm probably a spambot. Or possibly a 15 yo boy blogging from a dingy basement. If you're really interested you can read more about me here. If you have any questions or want to guest post contact me.