Presidential hopeful says cancer vaccine is "immoral" and may cause retardation.
The HPV vaccine is meant to protect against cervical cancer, but one presidential candidate has suggested there may be a link between the shot and a very serious health issue.
Texas Governor Rick Perry was criticized in a CNN debate with other GOP presidential hopefuls Monday night for his decision to try to get all 11- and 12-year old girls in his state the HPV vaccine.
It was never signed into law, but that didn't stop the other candidates from attacking Perry, most notably, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann.
"Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don't get a mulligan, they don't get a do-over," Bachmann said.
On the Today Show Tuesday morning she said that after the debate, a woman approached her with this claim:
"She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter," Bachmann said.
Scientists readily admit they're always learning new things about the practice of medicine, but experts say they have never heard of a link between mental health problems and any vaccine.
"We need to take a look at it of course, but we need to put it in the grouping of extraordinarily unlikely," says Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Dr. William Schaffner.
The HPV vaccine protects against several strains of the Human Papilloma Virus, which can lead to a majority of cervical cancers.
Multiple studies have shown the vaccine to be safe, with minor side effects like pain at the injection site.
Several years ago one study linked certain childhood vaccines with autism.
That research was later debunked, but the idea scared many parents away from giving their children vaccines.
"We shouldn't function according to rumors and hearsay," Dr. Schaffner warns.
Whether this latest claim will have the same effect remains to be seen.
For now, doctors say the HPV vaccine is an effective and safe way to protect against cervical cancer.