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Bachmann makes health claims about HPV vaccine not 'speaking as a doctor'

Asked about her stance against mandatory vaccinations against the human papillomavirus (HPV), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said Friday that "it's something that could have dangerous side effects."

The HPV vaccine, which prevents viruses that cause cervical cancer, has become Bachmann's route of attack against her rival for the GOP presidential nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who issued an executive order that required girls in his state to get the vaccine.

"The concern is that there's potentially side-effects that can come with something like that," Bachmann said on The Tonight Show.

In Monday’s CNN-Tea Party Express debate, Bachmann made the claim the HPV vaccine is a “potentially dangerous drug,” and argued that little girls who suffer grave reactions from the vaccine would be stuck with the consequences, despite not having had a say in receiving it.

A report released in late August by the Institute of Medicine found no link between the vaccine and autism, the most common link claimed by those who oppose inoculation. The study also did not find adequate evidence to suggest that the vaccine causes a dozen other serious adverse neurological and physical effects. It did, however, find some evidence that the vaccine could lead to anaphylaxis, or a severe allergic reaction.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said of the 35 million doses of Gardisil — the drug in question — that were administered through June, there were fewer than 19,000 reports of adverse effects, and 92 percent of those were non-serious.

But on The Tonight Show, Bachmann repeated her claim twice. "Again, it's something that potentially could have dangerous side effects," she said.

After Monday's debate, in an appearance on Fox News, Bachmann said she had spoken with a crying mother after the debate whose daughter had become mentally retarded after being administered the vaccine.

Questioned by host Jay Leno about that claim, Bachmann said, "I wasn't speaking as a doctor, I wasn't speaking as a scientist. I was just relating what this woman said."

Josh Lederman contributed to this story.