Bachmann's Legacy

During a debate last week for Republican presidential candidates and in interviews after it, Representative Michele Bachmann called the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer “dangerous.” Medical experts fired back quickly. Her statements were false, they said, emphasizing that the vaccine is safe and can save lives. Mrs. Bachmann was soon on the defensive, acknowledging that she was not a doctor or a scientist

But the harm to public health may have already been done. When politicians or celebrities raise alarms about vaccines, even false alarms, vaccination rates drop.

“These things always set you back about three years, which is exactly what we can’t afford,” said Dr. Rodney E. Willoughby, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a member of the committee oninfectious diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The academy favors use of the vaccine, as do other medical groups and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Denise Grady in today’s NYT, on what will be the defining legacy of Bachmann’s 2012 run for the Republican Presidential nomination.

13 Responses to “Bachmann's Legacy”

  1. Steve E says:

    …and yet here ( we have left wing poster boy Bill Maher saying somewhat the same thing… 

  2. Steve E says:

    …who’d have thought that Michele and Bill would have something nice to talk about… </sarc>

  3. Keith Kloor says:

    Maher has been heavily criticized for his anti-vaccine lunacy. I also discussed him here

  4. Steve E says:

    Sorry Keith, no disrespect intended. I think you’ve covered this issue from a neutral perspective with respect to the political spectrum. However, you must admit the image of Michele and Bill alone in an airport lounge waiting for a plane, looking for something nice to say is just too irresistible. 😉

  5. Marlowe Johnson says:

    at the risk of being a ‘knee jerk’ maher defender, let me once again point out that his position on vaccines is far more nuanced than Keith would have you believe and until quite recently it was an open question from a health economics/policy POV.  So I would once again suggest that using terms like ‘lunacy’ in the context of Bill Maher’s doubts about the wisdom of universal flu vaccine are somewhat off the mark.

  6. Keith Kloor says:

    Marlowe, put your knee back in place. Try not to squirm as you watch Maher talk about “inoculations” and the science not being settled and the need for a debate.

    Maher’s guests are incredulous at his lunacy.  

    You tell me which part of Maher’s ramblings here are nuanced. 

  7. Steve E says:

    I’m sorry Marlowe maybe I’m missing your point but it seems following your link (and by the way, I live in the jurisdiction described) that:

    This analysis indicates that compared to a TIIP, Ontario’s UIIP reduces influenza illness attack rates, morbidity, and mortality at reasonable cost to the health care payer.”

    Besides, Maher isn’t just talking about H1N1. He says: “Why would you let them be the ones to stick a disease into your arm? I would never get a swine flu vaccine or any vaccine. I don’t trust the government, especially with my health.”

    I mean polio, measles, rubella, mumps, tetanus, small pox etc., these were all common and often deadly diseases when my parents were children.

    Maher and Bachmann are both loons on this issue. My point is if Bachmann’s credibility hangs on this one issue, then surely Maher’s credibility does too.

    Bachmann has too many other faults to hang her for, but on this issue Maher can negatively influence more people than Bachmann. 


  8. Marlowe Johnson says:

    oh dear. might need some jello to get the knee out. ouch.

    OTOH I still maintain — as a matter of principle — that healthy people that don’t deal with at-risk populations needn’t be ostracized for not taking the seasonal flu vaccine (which is a crap shoot at best).  As someone who has suffered from Guillaume-Barre like sypmtoms after a shot, I can attest to the fact that there are risks (however small) that need to weighed against the benefits. In spite of that particular experience, I still got vaccinated while my daughter was very young (i.e. at risk population).  Will I get a shot this year now that she’s older? Dunno…

  9. Marlowe Johnson says:

    I’m from Ontario and my dad is a GP so I’m very familiar with the particulars of the debate around universal access to flu vaccinations.  As noted above, as a matter of public policy I have no problem with UIIP.  However, I don’t think that we should treat healthy adults who decline to get the shot as ‘lunatics’.

    H1N1 was a very different animal from regular flu BTW (much higher morbidity among segments of the population that typically weren’t at risk). 

    As far as Maher goes, note the bit about knees and jello 😯 

  10. Steve E says:

    My father wasn’t a doctor and I “didn’t play one on TV.” 😉 I’m not calling a healthy adult a “lunatic” for not getting an H1N1 shot. Trust me I understood the difference between H1N1 and other flu. It’s the only flu shot I’ve ever gotten. Both my children got the shot, but my wife–a non-lunatic–decided not to get the shot.

    My comments are not specific to H1N1, but to inoculation in general. Bachmann’s and Maher’s reactions are both unreasonable and irresponsible given the influence they wield. It’s one thing to point out risks and let people decide, it’s another to rave like Maher or speak from ignorance like Bachmann.

  11. Keith Kloor says:

    Steve E hits it on the head. I’ll just add: If Maher would not have framed his objection to the H1N1 shot in a babble of ant-vaccine rubbish, it would be a different story.


  12. Maher aims to entertain, and is an idiot with regard to vaccines.  Michele Bachmann aims to run the country , and is an idiot with regard to almost everything she talks about.  
    Neutral enough?

  13. Steve E says:

    Both are idiots with respect to many things. Maher aims to influence political opinion through “entertainment.” Bachmann puts it on the line through participation in the political process. Whether you agree or disagree it’s a lot easier to manoeuvre without a picket fence post up your a**. 😉

    Who needs neutral? 

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