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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The HPV vaccine, which guards against cervical cancer, is safe according to federal health officials and leading scientists. A point that the University of Pennsylvania’s Art Caplan is trying to underscore with his challenge to Michele Bachmann.

“It’s time somebody said I’m going to hold you accountable,” said Caplan, a Bioethicist at Penn. He says facts matter and that’s why he’s challenging Bachmann. He’s offering to donate 10,000 dollars to charity if she can verify her claim that the HPV vaccine caused quote “mental retardation.”

“The fact is we’ve had a lot of fear mongering and ignorance from a lot of sources some celebrities now politicians about the dangers of vaccines,” said Caplan.

The vaccine prevents the Human Papillomavirus, HPV, which is sexually transmitted and is the leading cause of cervical cancer. It’s approved by the CDC for girls and boys starting at the age of 9.

“It’s a very, very safe vaccine,” said Caplan.

More than 35 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been distributed in the United States. The CDC says there is not a single report of neurological impairment linked to it.

Documented minor side effects include headache, soreness at the injection site, nausea and fever.

Caplan says HPV and other vaccines save lives, and it’s irresponsible to discourage people from getting them.

“I do worry when a major political figure, someone who wants to be president, has been taken seriously in a debate about being president, says the vaccine is dangerous. People are going to listen,” said Caplan. He says Bachmann has not responded to his challenge.


HPV Vaccine Information – http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/hpv/#safety

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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