At a campaign stop in Iowa on Monday, Michele Bachmann found herself in the middle of an issue she had previously stepped in, then tried to step out of — and now is in it again: Her allegation against Rick Perry that the HPV vaccine causes damage to children.
Bachmann, of course, was raked over the coals for her claim, as part of an attack on Perry for issuing an executive order that young girls in Texas be vaccinated against the sexually-transmitted disease HPV, that a woman told her after a Republican debate in September that the HPV vaccine had caused her daughter to develop mental retardation.
This statement — based on a single anecdote, rather than any comprehensive scientific data that might establish direct causation — helped to spread long-standing myths that vaccines cause retardation or autism in some children, an idea that the medical profession has worked very hard to dispel.
Now, the Des Moines Register reports, an area mother named Julie Weppler, who blames the vaccine for some very serious health problems afflicting her daughter, spoke to Bachmann during a Q&A session.
“Michele, on behalf of myself and a lot of other mothers that have a child that’s sick from the Gardasil vaccine, I would like to thank you for the attention that you brought to it,” said Weppler. “This is my daughter, Jessica, and she’s been sick for three years now from that vaccine.”
The paper reports:
In Sheldon, Weppler went on to tell Bachmann that her daughter can’t go to school because of chemical sensitivities to everything from magic markers to certain cleaning supplies. She uses Skype, a video chat software, to attend high school classes from home.
Jessica, age 16, began having headaches three years ago and described them to her mother as “a samurai sword stuck” in her head. Weppler said her daughter hasn’t gone a day without one since. Jessica also suffers from debilitating pains in her joints and spine, an irregular menstrual cycle and insomnia. She’s also experienced seizures and temporary paralysis, Weppler said.
“I praise you that you brought it to the attention of people, and I hope you continue to keep it in the forefront and educate people and try to get this vaccine pulled off the market,” Weppler said.
“Well, I thank you for bringing it up,” Bachmann said. “Parents have to make that decision for their kids because it isn’t the schools that are going to follow up with Jessica. It isn’t the schools that live with Jessica every day. It’s Jessica who’s having to have her body live with the ravages of this vaccine.”
The paper further reports that the Wepplers have traveled the country, mounting activism against the HPV vaccine, and participates in an online support group of families who believe they have been harmed by the vaccine.
“I really like Michele. I’m sure Gardasil’s not something she’s investigated a whole lot,” said Weppler. “I hope she does.”