Last night, Michele Bachmann appeared on Fox News after the debate and continued her tirade against the Texas mandate for the Gardasil HPV vaccine. While many on the Right object to Perry mandating the vaccine from a parental rights or big government perspective, Bachmann took the issue a step farther, claiming the vaccine caused “mental retardation” to an audience member’s daughter.

As Dave Weigel notes over at Slate, “The CDC has recommended Gardasil, warning that the only verified side-effect has been rare cases of blood clots and an immune system disorder.”  Despite some who claim the drug is dangerous, like all other drugs in the United States, it underwent rigorous drug trials before it was put on the open market.

With Bachmann’s comments on the dangers of the HPV vaccine, she joins the ranks of celebrity Jenny McCarthy, who has famously linked her son’s autism to vaccinations. Even though the movement’s scientific research has been debunked, McCarthy has continued to use her position to encourage parents not to vaccinate their children.  Prior to McCarthy’s crusade against vaccines, she was best known for being a Playboy bunny and MTV host and personality.

The anti-vaccination crusade that McCarthy, and now Bachmann, have undertaken have serious implications for public safety. Last year, ten infants in California died from whooping cough, a disease that was made near extinct 60 years ago with the development of a vaccine. In ten months in 2010, California saw almost 6,000 cases of the disease.

Those who are crying “my [child’s] body, my choice” don’t seem to grasp the ramifications of their decisions impact the health and safety of everyone around them. Bachmann’s foray into McCarthy’s imagination land sets a dangerous and irresponsible example for the many fans who look to her for leadership and guidance. Michele, it’s time to get off the vaccination-truther train.