Ethan Lindenberger, 18, got vaccinated without his parents' permission once he was old enough, acting against his mother's incorrect belief that vaccines cause autism, brain damage and other ailments. Ethan Lindenberger of Norwalk, Ohio, said his mother's "love, affection and care is apparent", but that she was steeped in online conspiracies that make him and his siblings vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases like the ongoing measles outbreaks.
"My mother is an anti-vaxx advocate [who] believes that vaccines... do not benefit the health and safety of society, despite the fact such opinions have been debunked numerous times by the scientific community", Ethan told the Senate committee.
An Ohio teenager who defied his anti-vaxxer mother's wishes and got all his shots at 18 has testified before Congress about unsafe the spread of misinformation is. He told lawmakers it's important "to inform people about how to find good information" and to remind them how risky these diseases really are. He says her love "was used to push an agenda to create a false distress" and called for an effort to stop the spread of misinformation.
Not only has the USA experienced a slew of risky measles outbreaks in the past year (there have been 159 confirmed cases across 10 states) but the World Health Organization recently named vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global health threats.
Vaccine hesitancy is particularly prominent in the U.S. For example, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that while coverage of most recommended vaccines remained relatively stable and high in 2017 for American children aged 19 to 35 months, the percentage who have received no vaccinations has quadrupled since 2001.
And further, he said, "hospitals commonly require their employees to be immunized, because they understand that herd immunity is important, and if a nurse's aide is not immunized, she can be a Typhoid Mary, if you will, bringing disease to many who are immunocompromised".
"I grew up in an (anti-vaccination) household". Lindenberger served as one of five witnesses, alongside healthcare workers such as Dr. John Wiesman, Washington state's Secretary of Health, and Dr. Saad B. Omer, professor of public health at Emory University.
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However, when a public health emergency was declared in Washington State after a measles outbreak, Lindenberger knew he had to act, reaching out to Reddit for advice on how to get immunised without his parents' involvement now he was of age.
Yet not everyone agreed fully with some of the ideas put forth in the hearing, such as mandatory vaccine requirements.
"I think it's the same with vaccinations", he added. I'm also afraid I'd go somewhere that up-charges vaccines way more than somewhere just down the street. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) noted vaccine requirements only apply to children entering school, and exercising individual liberty should not come at the expense of the health of others. He said parents who question vaccines are not acting out of malice but actual concern for their children.
"He's excited; he's very excited", said Lindenberger's father Joe, who took his son to the airport Monday. The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is 93 percent or more effective at preventing measles, according to the CDC.
Ethan Lindenberger is one of many children of anti-vaxxer parents who have sought online assistance once they began to doubt their parent's beliefs.
According to Paul, people who support the measles vaccine "will be after us next" to mandate the flu vaccine.