An Ohio high school senior just took teenage rebellion to a new level when he went before Congress and bashed his mom’s decision not to vaccinate him.
Ethan Lindenberger, 18, told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Tuesday how he went against his mother’s wishes and got vaccinated after he found compelling scientific evidence to do so. His mother failed to vaccinate him as a child, as the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests, because she believes vaccinations can lead to complications like autism. “I went my entire life without numerous vaccines against diseases such as measles, chickenpox or even polio,” Lindenberger told the senators. “I grew up understanding my mother’s beliefs that vaccines are dangerous.”
The congressional hearing, titled “Vaccines Save Lives: What is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks,” comes in response to the sudden rise in cases of preventable viruses — measles in particular — across the U.S. this year. More than 70 people, primarily children, have become sick with measles in the Pacific Northwest since the beginning of this year. Washington, like Lindenberger’s home state of Ohio, allows parents to opt out of necessary childhood vaccinations for personal or moral reasons.
After joining his school’s debate club, Lindenberger told the committee he soon realized there wasn’t a credible argument against receiving vaccines. He even brought evidence to his mother that vaccines were safe — including research backed by government agencies — but she rejected them.
“My mother would turn to anti-vaccine groups online and on social media looking for her evidence and defense,” Lindenberger said. He also noted he believes his mother’s fears were rooted in love, because she didn’t want her kids to develop disorders like autism. (No evidence links autism with vaccinations, as a massive study published Tuesday showed, once again.)
So in November, Lindenberger posted to Reddit asking how he might go about disobeying his mother and getting his shots in Ohio.
“My parents are kind of stupid and don't believe in vaccines. Now that I'm 18, where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?” Lindenberger asked in the post.
The next month, Lindenberger trekked to his local Department of Health office for a slew of routine vaccinations against ailments like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, influenza and the human papillomavirus, according to the Washington Post.
“To combat preventable disease outbreaks, information is, in my mind, the forefront of this matter,” he told Congress Tuesday.
Cover image: Ethan Lindenberger testifies during a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 5, 2019, to examine vaccines, focusing on preventable disease outbreaks. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)